USA Luge Team 3D Printed Its Way To The PyeongChang Olympics  

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 14: Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk of the USA slide through the Luge Doubles run 2 on day 5 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics (Photograph by Adam Fairly/Getty Photographs)

With luge competitors in full swing on the Olympics this week and Chris Mazdzer turning into the primary U.S. athlete to medal within the males’s singles, Stratasys is hoping its work with USA Luge final summer time will contribute to further success on the monitor.

Stratasys partnered with the staff to 3D print molds for custom-made elements that the group then carried out into sled prototypes. The fast tempo of the turnaround of latest molds enabled the group to make faster modifications to sleds and experiment with new designs nearer-than-ever to the beginning of the competitors. Two U.S. athletes, Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk of the lads’s doubles, even used a few of the 3D-printed molds for elements on their sleds throughout competitors at PyeongChang.

The benefit of utilizing additive manufacturing is that it allows Team USA to extra shortly and affordably make incremental enhancements on sleds that journey at speeds exceeding 87 miles per hour at competitions gained in fractions of seconds.

“There’s quite a bit at stake right here, and we like the concept we will provide you with an concept and fairly shortly flip it into one thing tangible and testable,” stated Gordy Sheer, a 1998 Olympic doubles silver medalist and USA Luge’s advertising and publication relations director. “This 3D printing provides us the power the customise to the billionth diploma.”

The workforce leveraged a Stratasys 3D-printing course of referred to as Fused Deposition Modeling that enabled it to quickly and price-successfully construct and check racing sleds that have been tailor-made to the physique of every athlete. Beforehand, the group had used a course of referred to as normal composite fabrication, a costlier and conventional manufacturing course of with longer turnaround occasions and fewer choices for personalisation. 

Stratasys’ know-how helped workforce designers engineer mandrels for the Doubles Tower, a composite construction on the sled’s entrance that’s used to precisely place riders’ legs in the course of the race. The half, based on engineers, is “extraordinarily troublesome” to manufacture resulting from complicated geometry.

With the velocity of 3D printing, group designers have been capable of 3D print the complicated mandrels, layup and remedy the composite construction, and wash-out the tooling materials in lower than every week — far faster than the weeks-lengthy conventional course of.

“Not solely are they capable of go quicker, however they’re capable of print rather more complicated shapes than they could have the ability to do with conventional tooling. Complicated shapes save weight and assist with efficiency,” stated Tim Schniepp, Stratasys Senior Director of Composite Options. “What we discovered was we iterated comparatively shortly, might make elements, make modifications and do it once more – in order that they have been capable of actually dial within the remaining shapes and efficiency of the sleds.”

The group additionally examined 3D printing the complete sled physique layup instruments, which included a detachable center part that enabled the group to regulate the peak based mostly on every athlete in order that it might maximize their comfortability and the sled’s efficiency.

“When athletes are snug they will concentrate on driving the sled,” Sheer stated. “That’s actually crucial factor, eliminating as many issues that would probably distract an athlete or group. This enables them to really feel good and 0 in on precisely what they need out of the sled.”

Following a profitable check run that USA Luge hopes will contribute to podium wins at this Olympics, Stratasys believes the group might be focused on increasing its capabilities with 3D printing sooner or later.

Probably down the street, the staff may think about 3D printing complete elements used on sleds, fairly than simply the molds, which might allow it to make final-minute changes to realize an edge on efficiency.  

“That is the primary phrase, however we undoubtedly have some greater plans and ambitions down the street,” stated David Dahl, an purposes engineer at Stratasys. “To print elements that go instantly on the sled would permit them to attend even longer to optimize the design nearer to race time.”

USA Luge additionally tapped Dow Chemical final yr to tweak a number of the sled’s element supplies forward of the Olympics. Utilizing an internet of sensors, GPS knowledge, physics fashions and lab testing, Dow helped to enhance the staff’s velocity and agility, and assist racers perceive the South Korean race circumstances earlier than they flew into PyeongChang. For the luge workforce, which offers with race day temperatures on the ice that may dip as little as -30 levels Fahrenheit, Dow labored on compensating for the truth that frigid temperatures make supplies extra inflexible by tweaking the inherent properties of the sled’s bridge.