Feb 14, 2018 | By Tess

With the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea well under way, it was only a matter of time before 3D printing was revealed to be involved. According to 3D printing giant Stratasys, it worked with the US Olympic Luge Team to 3D print specialized components for its sleds with the hope of snatching up a gold medal.

Luging, for those unacquainted with the more marginal of winter sports, is a sledding sport in which one or two people (depending on the sled) lie face up and race, feet first, down an icy, winding track. Needless to say, it is not a sport for the faint of heart.

In about an hour’s time, the men’s Olympic doubles luge competition will take place with the 3D printed sled in the spotlight. Athletes Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk from TEAM USA will be riding the 3D printed sled and aiming to get the much-coveted gold.

Though you might not be able to tell that the sled is 3D printed as the pair careen down the icy track, additive manufacturing was used in subtle ways to improve the performance of the vehicle to give the riders an extra competitive edge.

Working with the US Luge Team, Stratasys engineers were able to design, 3D print, and test a variety of sled prototypes. 3D printing, they say, enabled them to work at a rapid pace without sacrificing quality. It also enabled them to create customized sled designs for each athlete they were working with.

Once the optimal sled design was achieved, Stratasys then set about 3D printing the tools to create the sled parts from a high-performance composite material.

“Traditional methods of composite fabrication are tedious and expensive so it was time and cost-prohibitive to create custom sleds for each athlete,” said the company. “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.”

Luge races often come down to a fraction of a second, so having just the slightest edge, whether from equipment or performance, can be a game-changer. We’ll be keeping a close watch on Team USA as the doubles luge race moves ahead in the next hour.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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