The Olympics is the most prestigious sporting event in the world. Comprising the best athletes from around the globe, the games also demand top of the line sports equipment. The 23rd winter games in Pyeongchang are no different. This year’s winter Olympics has the US Luge Team competing in a 3D printed sled with aid of Stratasys. Chris Mazdzer used this new sled to win the first Olympic medal for the US team.
Thanks to Stratasys, the Olympic team were able to test a variety of test designs. While the sled may not appear different to casual observers, it has many 3D printed components. The components provide many advantages such as advanced aerodynamics. Another advantage is that each sled and its constituent parts can now fit each individual athlete.
3D Printed Sports Goods
“Traditional methods of composite fabrication are tedious and expensive so it was time and cost-prohibitive to create custom sleds for each athlete,” said Stratasys. “The design freedom from additive manufacturing enabled the team to create customized sleds that were tailored to each athlete’s body, which in turn, drastically improved comfort, ergonomics, and most importantly, final performance.”
As is many times the case, the 3D printing also allowed them to work at a rapid pace. Once they settled on an ideal design, they set about 3D printing the tools to create the sled parts from a high-performance composite material. It takes a delicate balance to make the sled both tough and light enough to achieve the speeds necessary. This is especially difficult considering how many luge events come down to a fraction of a second’s difference.
We’ve previously reported on the use of 3D printing in other athletic design endeavors. One example is ETH Zurich’s prize-winning canoe. While 3D printed sports goods or sportswear have been around for a while, it is an entirely new feat to have them debut at an olympic event.