April 29, 2013

Here is a very cool project that a group of French students are working on: the Propul~Surf, a screw propelled snowboard designed to operate in all type of snows, puff included.

Propul~surf is an alternative to ski tows and snowmobiles. It is a portable device: once packed in a bag, the snowboarder (or skier) can freely go down trails. This propulsion system is based on Archimedes' screw: this is efficient and soft for the environment.

Developed by five 17-18 years old high school students studying science and engineering at the Lycee Parc Chabrieres school in the suburbs outside Lyon, France, the goal of the Propul~Surf is to give the ability to a Snowboarders (or a skier if the 2 skis are joined together) to climb on a mountain effortlessly and to ride back freely.

Their teacher Laurent Neau said that the first data showed that a snowboarder could easily climb on hills with it, with some minor modifications.

"The idea of the screw vehicle is not new: it was developed by Armstead Snow Motor in the 20's and also used by the Russian for their space program. The device works in a simple manner: It is like operating a drill on the snow, but horizontally. Think about the Granita machines ;-)," explained Neau.

"The original idea came to me when I was thinking about setting up a propulsion device (built from a track) behind a snowboard: I looked closely at some already existing projects and noticed that the power was badly transmitted to the snow: the snow is in a very bad shape behind the track = bad efficiency and it was too noisy for the environment. I like enjoying the silence in the mountain."

"The actual innovation could come from the position of the two screws: Behind the snow, they can "bite" and easily transmit the mechanical power in the track that the snowboard is building itself: the track behind the snowboard is in perfect shape to do so. This is the heart of the solution: the good condition of the snow surface left behind the snowboard." added Neau.

In the video below you can see that even in the very bad snow (spring snow, melting) the track left behind the snowboard is nice and clean. The power transmission is "good".

The students started their project last September.

"3D printing is our very main tool for making projects: in addition of a Uprint (Dimension 1200) we have a drill press, a vise and a couple of power tools. The downside of the Uprint is the insane price of the ABS you must buy with it, this is why I have just ordered a Replicator 2x." said Neau. "We even wish to recycle the ABS in the future (with the help of devices like filabot, if possible)."

Beside the PVC tubes and the shaft made out of a steel bar, all parts were 3D printed on a Uprint Dimension 1200 in ABS.

"Since many years, I have been a huge fan of 3D printing, its potential is mind-blowing. ABS is a great material for prototyping small scale devices, very versatile: with insertion of bolts, steel bars, carbon rods, ball bearings and so on, it is very easy to make working prototypes within a short period of time with students ( most of them are beginners). When we need to glue bigger parts, acetone melted ABS is just perfect." Neau said.

Among four others, this project has been chosen to enter into the semi-finals in Lyon, France for a national student's contest the Engineering Science Olympiad taking place on the 22nd of may in Paris.

Two years ago Neau's students ranked 4th in the finals with their project "Chapisolo", an automatic solar battery charger with 3D printed parts.

Full dataset of the project can not be shared at the moment because of the contest. Nevertheless this is a very neat school project and a great learning experience for the students. Neau said the first prototype shown in the video below was made to check if the screw propulsion was possible. He said that it should be easy to cut the weight down to 4 to 7 Kg, as it is intended to be portable (like a back-pack). And their next prototype will be faster (10 km/h), smaller, safer and lighter.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Porpulsurf Team wrote at 8/15/2014 7:33:56 PM:

Propul~surf official website : http://www.propulsurf.com

The teacher wrote at 5/2/2013 2:50:54 PM:

This concept is not new for shure...but it never has been tried behind a snowboard. That it is a great project for high school students anyway, isn't it ? The screws can be detached so you don't need them when going down. Source : http://www.gizmag.com/propulsurf-screw-propelled-snowboard/27230/

James wrote at 5/1/2013 8:03:16 PM:

This has been around forever.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVzj3_MUBjE

Bri wrote at 4/30/2013 9:56:46 PM:

Clever, minus the fact that it will equally propel you up hill and counter drag you downhill! For just having some fun on flat terrain I say have at it, but I can't see how this would transition to the slopes.

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