Additive manufacturing and winter sports: Discover the best 3D printed sport equipments
Additive manufacturing has a lot of advantages to offer for a lot of different industries. But it could also be useful in some other sectors such as sport for example. Indeed, 3D printing for sport, and especially for winter sports can be very useful. But do you know how?
First, we will see how the 3D printing technology could improve the product development of sport equipments, from prototypes to finished products. We will show you all the benefits of 3D printing to get customized devices for athletes. Then, we will go through some examples. For instance, did you know that 3D printing has been used to create some equipments for the Olympic Games at Pyeongchang? Read this blogpost to get more information about it.
3D printing for sport equipments
Improving the product development process
You may not know it but additive manufacturing can be a great asset for all kind of sports. It can really be useful on different levels. First, keep in mind that you can create any type of equipments thanks to this technology, from skis to mouthguards.
3D printing could be perfect for you to develop your product. In the first place, it could be a great solution to make prototypes at a lower cost. It could be the perfect method to create as many iterations as you need very easily. If you want to modify your creation, you just have to modify your 3D model thanks to your 3D modeling software. It would be totally impossible or way more expensive and complicated with another traditional manufacturing method such as injection molding. 3D printing is an amazing tool for research and development even to create devices and equipments for winter sports or sports in general.
If it is a great way to prototype, it could also be a great way to produce your objects. Indeed, 3D printing is a faster and cheaper method to manufacture them! Indeed, if you use an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo, you will access professional 3D printers and various 3D printing materials and finishings.
Custom-made sport equipements
Additive manufacturing is known to be a good solution for mass customization, and this could be a great asset for some sectors like sport. Indeed, this technology is already used in fields such as the medical industry in order to create custom-made prosthesis for example. By following the same idea, we can see that it could be quite useful to create custom-made equipments, adapted to the morphology of the athletes.
What are exactly the different equipments that we could create thanks to 3D printing. We already saw in a previous blogpost that the footwear industry is beginning to make the most of the 3D printing technology. We saw that creating 3D printed midsoles adapted to the foot morphology of the athletes could improve their comfort, and at the same time, their performance.
Some sports are requiring some protections, such as mouthguards. They can totally be 3D printed. The dental industry is using additive manufacturing to create customized items for the patients and it is now possible to 3D print a mouthguards. A company called GuardLab is actually creating mouthguards for athletes thanks to 3D scans. Moreover, as 3D printed glasses are more and more common, we can imagine that it could totally possible to get customized glasses thanks to the 3D printing technology.
The additive manufacturing technology is offering a lot of different possibilities. All kind of sport equipments could be 3D printed to be adapted to the morphology of the athletes, helping them to focus on their performance first.
3D printing for winter sports
3D printed items for winter sports are requiring a very good strength and have to be really resistant. It is now totally possible to build them thanks to the 3D printing technology as there are now various 3D printing materials with the right properties for these kind of devices.
3D printing for snowboards
Capita and the 3D printed snowboard sidewalls
Using 3D printing to create snowboard parts and reduce manufacturing wastes, is it possible? Yes, it is, and it is the idea of Capita, a snowboard manufacturer. This company is creating sidewalls for their “spring break” snowboards, using the FFF technology (fused filament fabrication). It appears that this technology is actually reducing waste during production. They are interested in the protection of the environment, and additive manufacturing helps with that, as they only use the amount of material that they need while producing parts with this technology.
Prototyping snowboards thanks to 3D printing
Burton Snowboards is using 3D printers in order to prototype and test their products. Thanks to additive manufacturing, this company developed snap-on snowboard bindings. 3D printing really allowed them to make many iterations and tests, which would have been impossible with another manufacturing process. As they have their own 3D printers, they can prototype everything by themselves. They just have to work on their 3D modeling software and then, they produce on their own. It shows what this technology can actually bring to the sports field. If you want to try this prototyping technique but can’t or don’t want to invest in expensive professional 3D printers, you can send you 3D file to our online 3D printing service, and access our 3D machines.
The first 3D printed snowboard
In California, a company called Signal Snowboards has 3D printed a snowboard. They were the first ones in 2013 to 3D print such an object. This first snowboard was just a first try and even if it could be improved now, it was showing that the beginning of 3D printing for winter sports was already quite promising. Check out the video below to see a demo of this 3D printed snowboard:
3D printing for skis
3D printed skis
Stratasys 3D printed skis that have been created with the 3D modeling software SolidWorks to work on all the characteristics and design of this equipment. It has been 3D printed using the FDM technology (Fused Deposition Modeling). Get more information about these skis in the video below:
3D printed ski boots
It is the Windform Easystand 3D printed boots. Polyamide with some carbon reinforcement. These ski boots are only 3D printed prototypes for the moment. Once again this prototype is the proof that the additive manufacturing technology can really be helpful to develop products, especially when it comes to prototypes for brand new ideas.
3D printed ski gear
3D printable designs are available on Thingiverse, such as 3D printed ski gears. When it comes to winter sports, a lot of things are possible using the additive manufacturing technology. Developing ski gear is one of them. Little items such as clips or clasps can be 3D printed and adapted to any equipment!
3D printing for the Paralympic Games
If additive manufacturing is a great method to create sport equipments custom-made for athletes, it could also be a solution to produce sport equipments for the athletes participating in the Paralympic Games. It could be a way to create items taking into account the specificity of each person.
For example, during the 2014 Paralympic Games a skier called Martin Fleig used a 3D printed sit ski. It has been made specially for his morphology, and it was totally adapted to his needs.
Image: © Fraunhofer IWM
2018 Winter Olympics and additive manufacturing
This year, during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the 3D printing technology was also present in Pyeongchang, in South Korea. Some athletes were participating to the competition using 3D printed equipments. It is the proof that athletes are interested in all the benefits that this technology can provide.
For these examples the real advantage of the 3D printing technology and the reason why it is used is customization. It allows to get good parts which perfectly fit the athletes’ body. In many sports, improving the quality of a product means that it will improve its physical properties. That is why creating devices adapted to athletes is so important.
Athletics 3D and the 3D printed rifle
Thanks to all of these advantages 3D printing can be good and particularly adapted to competition. Offering the best equipments to the athletes, as they are totally adapted to their morphology, will help them focusing on the performance.
The french biathlete Martin Fourcade took part in the competition with a rifle, made with a 3D printed grip. This 3D printed part has been created by the start-up Athletics 3D, a company specialized in personalized rifles and fitting products. Athletics 3D is a start-up founded by Clément Jacquelin, the Youth Biathlon World Champion 2009. His will: creating personalized rifles and fitting products for athletes.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen a norwegian biathlete also changed the grip of his rifle for a 3D printed one, made by Athletes 3D. It could become more and more common for the athletes has it could really help them to improve their performance.
How are Athletic 3D creating their 3D printed sport equipments ? They are using the EBM process (Electron Beam Melting), a 3D printing process for metal parts, the raw material is fused together from heating by an electron beam. All the prototyping and production are made using 3D printing.
3D printed luge during the Winter Olympics Sports
A 3D printed luge has been created using the FDM technology (Fused Deposition Modeling) for USA Luge. Specially made to fit the body of the athletes, that could allow them to feel more comfortable or even to go faster than with a traditional luge. Indeed, as the luge is perfectly adapted, it is improving its physical properties. We can see that additive manufacturing is now used to produce final parts, and sort equipment allowing to get better results.
As you can see 3D printing is everywhere and can even be used for the production of sport equipments in general, including winter sports.
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