Swiss Guards replace cast iron helmets with lighter headgear.The Vatican's Swiss Guards have begun to replace their traditional cast iron helmets with much lighter headgear in PVC, produced with the aid of 3D printing technology.
The move is designed to provide the pope's army with more comfortable helmets when standing guard for hours at a time, with hidden air holes to offset the summer heat.
The first batch of 95 helmets, out of a total shipment of 150, arrived at the Vatican recently. The new headgear was developed by Swiss engineer Peter Portmann and Swiss firm 3D-Protoyp.The new-look helmets reportedly cost €880 each - roughly half the old price - with a similar design to the original apart from an additional feature of the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who founded the army in 1506.
The 120 current Swiss Guards belong to the world's oldest standing army which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2006. The guards must be male and of Swiss nationality, as well as being Catholic, unmarried and aged between 19 and 30. They must also have undergone intensive Swiss military training and be a minimum height of 174 cm.
In addition to protecting the pope, the army performs ceremonial duties and assists at Vatican functions, and is famous for its ancient halberd weapons and its blue, gold and red uniform. The soldiers serve for between two and 25 years.