The 3D printing technology of Stratasys takes on wind and water!
In a race combining the elements of weather, extreme sports and competition, land and sea—and the high tech boost of 3D printing, it’s on for kitesurfers racing across the Bristol Channel this week to beat drivers on land. It’s also on for changing the way kiteboards are made in general, because as students of University of Wales TSD Swansea take off with this competition, they are making history for their sport in modifying boards with 3D printed parts–a process which has the ability to transform the artistry and manufacturing of kitesurfing equipment.
While the project is designed not only to promote some lightning fast kiting, it’s also designed to promote the first extreme sports engineering design course created by University of Wales TSD Swansea, who collaborated with Stratasys by using their Fortus 3D Production System to modify the design of their boards, and send students flying across the channel with the power of 3D printing technology behind them.
“The use of 3D printing in product design, and especially in the extreme sport market, is revolutionizing the manufacturing process and the speed to which companies can bring new products to market,” said Ross Head, Product Design Manager for Cerebra at the University of Wales TSD Swansea, and one of the challenge kite-surfers. “We wanted our students to witness this first hand.”
With help from Stratasys, the goal is to attain ‘greater control, speed and technical reliability’ with:
- 3D printed fins, offering better size, shape, and angles to catch the wind.
- Carbon fiber wrapping for rigidity and improved, lighter weight, and higher traveling speed.
- 3D printed inserts to attach the foot straps to the board, designed to achieve the maximum strength possible as they are glued into the foam core.
Five kitesurfers will be competing against another group who will be on land, traveling to the same destination in a standard Japanese hybrid car. The contest is expected to last several hours, depending on wind and water conditions.
For 3D printing the new and improved parts, they employed two Stratasys Fortus 250mc 3D Production Systems in collaboration with Stratasys reseller, Laser Lines.
“We redesigned the boards’ fins using a quad configuration with parts 3D printed using PC-ABS. These new fins provide us with improved lateral grip in the water and the ability to make quick turns. On the underside of the boards, we also designed a very flat rocker line, which means that the boards plane easily and achieve much higher speeds. When you put all of these improvements together, they contribute towards considerable performance gains,” explains Ross.
Not only does this look like a whole lot of fun, and a lifetime collegiate experience, it’s meant to be an intellectual and experiential endeavor so that the students learn about:
- Commercial market challenges
- Career options
The students did not actually 3D print the parts themselves for this particular project, but the university plans to follow up with additional exciting projects where the students will be able to explore design and creativity even further, along with integrating their learning about the engineering and manufacturing experience.
What do you think about the use of 3D printed parts in extreme sports equipment? Tell us about it in the Stratasys and University of Wales 3D Printed Parts for Extreme Kitesurfing Challenge forum at 3DPB.com.