Dec 9, 2014 | By Simon

Ralph Naumann's eSherpa Electric off road cart

Chalk this up as one of the more interesting (and functional!) uses for 3D printing.

As a tandem pilot for paragliders, one part of eSherpa designer Ralf Naumann's job is to help haul over 25kg of cliff-jumping equipment up some of the steepest hills in the world.

While carrying the haul uphill once per day is impressive, Naumann's commitment to doing it up to seven times per day is just downright insane. It comes with little surprise then, that he would be inspired to save his back (and a few doctor's bills) by inventing a device that assists him uphill with the heavy loads.

"After my first season I felt my back and my joints badly and i saw the other tandem pilots which have doing this job much longer – they all have problems with their backs and their joints… and I don't want to ruin my body because of my work," Naumann told online community YouMagine. "While I payed the bills for my chiropractor I decided to find a solution."

After two years of development, Naumann built prototypes using a 3D printer and an electric golf caddy. While the proof of concept proved to work well, the real engineering problems began to show through as he decided he needed the final design to be faster to load, more compact, stronger, and cheaper to build and maintain.

The solution consists of a device that carries enough engine power to haul up to 30kg uphill for paragliding jumps while also being able to be folded down into an object that can be carried during a paraglider's jump in their backpack. Even better, Naumann has made his design open source for other tandem pilots or those needing an assistive carrying device.

Among other parts that were 3D printed for the final design is a telescoping handle that allows the tandem pilot to conveniently pull the cart up hill while also being able to collapse and fit seamlessly inside of the paraglider's small backpack.

The compactness and lightweight nature of the device make it perfect for a myriad of other uses, too. Among them, Naumann sees the eSherpa as being an excellent 3D printed golf caddy, toolbox carrier or even a motorized shopping cart.

The natural engine braking even allows for a 'downhill assist' option in the case that one might decide that they don't want to go paragliding off the side of a cliff after looking down from the jump location.

"I want to see others building it, using it and thinking about it," adds Naumann. "Improvements or developing other uses for the eSherpa can be done best in a community."

You can head over to Naumann's eSherpa site to get the build instructions and 3D print one of your own here.

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

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