Aug 10, 2017 | By Benedict

3D printing startup PrintMyRoute is encouraging cyclists, runners, and other athletes to turn their favorite routes into 3D printed models. The models can visualize elevation and other aspects of the route.

The sharing and documenting of fitness routes is a new but undeniably popular phenomenon. Although I tend to skip past my friends’ Facebook posts about their latest 5 km jog (really, what am I supposed to do with that information?), it is undoubtedly quite cool that GPS and fitness tracking apps can show you exactly where you have been running (or riding), how fast you went at certain points, and your total time taken.

Of course, seeing your route on a 2D phone or computer screen has its limitations. It's not so easy to display information like the elevation of a particularly grueling climb, and you certainly can’t display the completed route on your mantlepiece.

Thanks to a new innovation from startup PrintMyRoute, both of those problems can now be solved—with 3D printing. PrintMyRoute gives fitness buffs the chance to convert their favorite routes into tangible 3D printed models, visually representing not only the length and shape of their circuit, but also its elevation and other aspects.

PrintMyRoute is the brainchild of Jake Morgan, a relative 3D printing novice who only purchased the startup’s first printer a few months ago. Since then, the entrepreneur has virtually perfected the process of turning route data into a 3D printable format.

3D printed "Map Profile" route model

Morgan recently spoke to cycling magazine BikeBiz about the process behind (and benefits of) PrintMyRoute.

“We can take pretty much any GPS data file—for example an exported GPX file from Strava, or a TCX file from your Garmin—run it through our software and make a few tweaks to make sure it looks good,” Morgan explained.

Customers are then invited to have a look at the model before giving it the green light for 3D printing. Morgan says it takes between two and six hours to print a model in PLA.

PrintMyRoute actually offers customers a few options in terms of what information their 3D printed route can represent.

3D printed "Linear Elevation Profile" route model

Morgan describes the 3D printed Linear Elevation Profile, the simplest option, as a “side-on view of the route showing you the lumpy ascents and descents over the course of route.” It’s essentially a straight “road,” but with the ascents and descents represented on the Z axis.

But customers can also opt for Map Profile, which is a “miniature scale map of the route” showing the route on all three axes, or a Pre-Made route, a highly detailed representation of a popular route like the Alpe d’Huez that doesn’t require additional GPS information.

Excitingly, this is just the beginning for PrintMyRoute. Soon, Morgan will offer new route options like a 3D print “mounted in a box frame” that will include a plaque to show the route’s name, date, time taken etc.

Although something of a newcomer to additive technologies himself, Morgan is confident that 3D printing can open up all sorts of opportunities in fitness and elsewhere.

“I find it a fascinating process and there’s potentially no limit to what you can create,” Morgan said. “As for the cycling industry, I can definitely see it being adopted for bespoke components—maybe where cyclists require very specific measurements made to a high precision.”

He’s right, too. A few weeks ago, we saw how Italian bike maker Pinarello had made bespoke 3D printed bicycle cockpits for British Tour de France riders Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. Froome went on to win the competition.

PrintMyRoute models are available from the startup’s online shop.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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