Swiss Guards renew their heavy headgear

The metal helmets will be replaced by a lighter version made of PVC with a 3D printer. Keystone

The world's oldest standing army is getting some new headgear: plastic PVC helmets made with a 3D printer.

This content was published on May 5, 2018 - 17:05 with Associated Press/urs

The first hard hat prototypes, produced by a company in central Switzerland, were handed over to the commander of the guard on Friday, the Vatican News reported.

However, the new helmets won't be donned at the annual swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday since more formal headgear is used for the occasion. 

The unit also plans to boost its numbers to 135 men from currently 110 members.

A Swiss guard spokesman said the new headgear will replace the metal helmets by next year if enough sponsors can be found in time.

The plastic tops are produced by a Swiss company for around €880 ($957) a piece, half the cost of the old ones. 

It is hoped that the black plastic tops will give the pope's army cooler and more comfortable headgear when standing guard for hours at a time.

Thirty-two new recruits - all of them single Swiss men under age 30 and practising Catholics - will join the small corps on May 6 for a minimum two years by pledging to protect the pope and his successors.

Established in at the beginning of the 16th century, the pontifical guard serves both as a ceremonial unit and a body guard.

They made the international news headlines 20 years ago when the newly-named commander of the guard and two other people were found dead.

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