Although Clint Dempsey has said that he will not wear a protective mask in the next U.S. match, NBA player Richard Hamilton packed a few to bring to Brazil with him. Athletes go to great measures to remain healthy and masks have been seen around the sports world. We spoke to Jeremy Murray of Murray Masks and he gave us a look at how these masks are created. Murray Masks caters to some of the world's top athletes including big names like Lakers stud Kobe Bryant, Richard Hamilton of the Pistons, and Shola Ameobi of the Nigerian World Cup team. For more information on protective masks, check out Murray Masks. First, a plaster cast is created of the athlete’s face. This can be cast in office, or mailed in, following pre-set guidelines. The cast is left to harden after the molding process. Mounting the preppedplaster cast on a vice-like mechanical arm, Murray usually prepares a sheet of precut polymer for the apparatus, or “oven.” After the cast has been allowed to harden, it is filed, sanded and cleaned. Murray stays close to his laboratory oven when itbakes the actual polymer sheet. Using a specific timingprotocol, the softened polymer is removed from the ovenand laid over the plaster cast. There’s a small window of opportunity to assess optimal pliability. Once the plastic has cooled, the piece is close to completion. Any specific external design elements are incorporated, finaladjustments and attachment mechanisms are placed in place and the mask is ready for a final live fitting. Impact testing is performed on the finished mask. The apparatus used for this process is called a Linear Impactor. The polymer is molded to the contour of the cast and fashioned into the almost final version. Brief summary of test results, showing an 80% decrease in force when the mask was impacted from a straight on hit. Basically, I hit the mask with over double the force it takes to break a facial bone, but was still able to off load 80%. This was to simulate a worst case scenario, someone attempting to punch you on your broken nose, while you were wearing a mask. Carbon Fiber is another option for masks, similar to what LeBron James wore.