EPlus3D

New Commercial Showcases Paralympics Racing Wheelchair Custom-Designed by BMW Using 3D Technology

Formnext Germany

Share this Article

636054102219650199-CaptureIn just a few days, the 2016 Summer Olympics will be kicking off in Rio de Janeiro. A few weeks after they’re over, the city will host the 2016 Paralympics, which will be commencing on September 7 and running until September 18. The Paralympics, which include multiple wheelchair-oriented events such as racing, dance, basketball, tennis and fencing, are just as competitive as the Olympics, and the assistive technology used by athletes grows more impressive each year.

This year, 3D technology will play a large role in the Paralympics, as cyclist Denise Schindler becomes the first athlete to race with a 3D printed prosthetic device, and the US Paralympics Track and Field team hits the track in sleek, aerodynamic racing wheelchairs designed using cutting-edge 3D scanning and printing technology. BMW Designworks collaborated with the team to design racing chairs custom-fitted to each athlete so that each device becomes less of a separate vehicle and more of an extension of the body.

DesignworksUSA, the creative consultancy for automotive manufacturer BMW, is an Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee, and in 2014 their bobsled design helped the US bobsled team take three medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The racing wheelchairs they designed this year aren’t visibly much different than chairs used in past events, but the alterations are both subtle and huge at the same time.

BMW_Designworks-P1_002-1138x640

Designworks began by 3D scanning one of the athletes in his wheelchair, then creating 3D computer models that could simulate changes in aerodynamics. The 3D modeling was an attempt to find ways to reduce drag, which they were able to do by about 15%, simply by making small, subtle changes to the wheelchairs’ frames.

“It’s not necessarily a revolution for these guys, but you want to give them every little edge,” said DesignworksUSA Associate Director Brad Cracchiola in an interview with Fast Company. “If they’re pushing into a headwind, or they hit a hill at 45 miles per hour, at those points, they’re in a tucked position trying to get as much speed as they can.”

BMW_Designworks-P1_014-569x379A full-body scan of each athlete allowed Designworks to design wheelchairs that are perfectly tailored to the body of each racer, with custom form-fitted seats along with durable, lightweight, custom 3D printed gloves. The idea, said Cracchiola, isn’t to give the US team fancy new performance-enhancing technology, but to keep the equipment from getting in the way of the athletes’ natural skill.

“There’s an interesting psychology to all of this,” he said. “The comfort of your equipment, the repeatability—when you have that mold, you know how it’s going to feel every time. And that’s one less thing for them to think about.”

The new wheelchairs were crafted out of carbon fiber instead of the more traditional aluminum. Carbon fiber gives the vehicle’s body an extra stiffness that helps to absorb shock and also to keep the wheels properly aligned. While the differences between the new wheelchairs and the old may be subtle, they’re likely to have a big impact on the performance and comfort of the athletes who use them. We’ll get to see them firsthand when the Paralympics commence next month; until then, you can check one of them out in this recently released commercial from BMW, featuring Paralympic racer Josh George. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Paralympics Wheelchair forum over at 3DPB.com.

https://youtu.be/6IlgxHJ8b3Q

 

Share this Article


Recent News

US Army Awards 6K Additive Five-Year Blanket Purchase Agreement for Metal 3D Printing Powders

US Air Force Awards 3D Systems $10M+ Contract to Develop Large Format Metal 3D Printer



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: September 24, 2023

We’ve got another eventful week coming up in the 3D printing industry! There are events and conferences in several countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Singapore, and webinars on all...

Laser Wars: Eplus3D Releases 16-Laser Metal 3D Printer

Chinese metal laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) manufacturer Eplus3D has unveiled its latest innovation: the EP-M1550. The new system is the company’s first 16-laser metal 3D printer, announced at TCT...

Featured

Printing Money Episode 9: Cubicure, Sigma Additive, Bridge Rounds, Seed Rounds, and Yes…. More on the Stratasys Mergerocalypse

Episode 9 of Printing Money starts with some positive industry news as Alex and Danny discuss Vienna-based Cubicure being acquired by orthodontic company Align Technology. However it’s swings and roundabouts...

Saudi Arabia’s NAMI to Begin Qualifying 3D Printed Oil & Gas Parts

National Additive Manufacturing & Innovation Company (NAMI), an AM services bureau based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) capital of Riyadh, announced at the AM Conclave in Abu Dhabi...