3D Printing Helps Olympic Athletes Be More Competitivec
3D printing technology is everywhere, from medical implants to aerostructures, and recently it’s made its way to the Olympics. USA Luge teamed up with Stratasys, a supplier of additive manufacturing technology, to build customized racing sleds. Through their fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology, Stratasys printed key layup and sacrificial tools used for manufacturing the sleds. The technology was also used to make mandrels for the sleds—a composite structure used to properly position riders’ legs at the front of the sled.
“Competitive luge racing is an extremely demanding sport where fractions of a second are the difference between winning and losing. Our riders depend on comfortable, aerodynamic sled designs to win races,” says USA Luge technical programs manager Jon Owen. “In teaming with Stratasys, we’ve become much more competitive on the world stage—continuously adjusting designs and running them on the track much faster than traditional processes. Additionally, we’ve balanced both comfort and performance by tailoring the sled to each rider’s body, while minimizing fabrication cost and time.”
Leveraging the Stratasys ST-130 sacrificial (wash-out) tooling material, team designers were able to 3D print the mandrel; layup and cure the composite structure; and wash-out the tooling material—all in less than one week. Team USA has pushed the technology even further by 3D printing the entire sled body layup tool. This particular design incorporates a removable middle section, allowing tool length to adjust based on each rider’s height. Driven by these efforts during prototyping, designers are currently using this same tooling for final sled components during competition.
“Stratasys customers push the limits of performance, efficiency, and reliability for 3D printed rapid tooling, prototypes and production parts,” says Scott Sevcik, vice president of manufacturing solutions at Stratasys. “Partnering with USA Luge highlights a perfect example of an environment where our additive manufacturing technology enables customers to meet critical needs in specialized applications. We’re proud to partner with Team USA, one of the best teams in winter sports, to help them apply the power of FDM technology to keep moving faster, in the shop, and on the track.”
USA Luge performed well in Pyeongchang with Chris Mazdzer taking home the silver medal in the men’s Single Luge and placing fourth in the Team Relay. For more information on additive manufacturing, call 877-489-9449 or visit www.stratasys.com.