3D Printing Prototypes Supports Reach for 2018 Olympic Gold in Men’s Biathlon

Share this Article

Standing portion of Biathlon. [Image: Götz A. Primke]

These days a lot of people’s TV time is being dedicated to the wide variety of sports that comprise the 2018 Winter Olympics. My family is so interested, that we’ve even tried to figure out curling, an effort which has since led my children to flinging things down the hallway and yet, unfortunately, has sparked no parallel interest in sweeping. The difference between going home a champion and going home empty handed can be hundredths of a second or tenths of a point and these elite athletes are always on the lookout for anything that can provide them with the edge they need to grab the gold.

The quest to improve upon performance can lead to scandal, as it has in recent years with Russian doping, or it can be part of a legitimate effort to understand physiology or equipment in an effort to be better, faster, stronger, or more durable. Such is the case in the winter biathlon, a sport that combines cross country skiing with rifle shooting. Just to clarify for those who have not watched the sport, one is not shooting as one skis, but rather at targets that are placed along the course where a skier stops to shoot at a target in either a prone or a standing position, and then continues skiing. During each round of shooting, the skier must hit five targets or receive a penalty which adds to their overall time. The skiers carry the rifle for the entirety of the race’s duration and the winner is determined by time taken to complete the entire course.

In this year’s men’s biathlon at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the gold medal was taken by France’s Martin Fourcade who not only completed a whopping 12 seconds ahead of the runner up, Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, but was also the only one, of the top seven competitors, to complete the final shooting round without a single error. The rifle that he used during his time on the course was one that had been developed by Athletics 3D – Olympics & Fitting and the prototypes for the design were produced in ABS on a Zortrax M200 3D printer. The company was founded by Clément Jacquelin, himself a Youth World Champion biathlete in 2009, who decided to dedicate himself to the advancement of the equipment rather than continue in professional sports. Jacquelin described how he arrived at his current pursuit:

“I have been a top athlete myself, a world champion. Seven years attending the top French engineering university programs left me with sufficient knowledge to make top-tier sports equipment. We started Athletics 3D to share our expertise and put everything we know about [the] ins and outs of biathlon into our products.”

Clément Jacquelin poses with rifle created for gold medalist Martin Fourcade.

The rifles used in the biathlon must weigh at least 7.7 lbs without the ammunition or the magazine and the targets are placed at 160 feet from the shooter. The accuracy of the weapon is extremely important as the targets themselves are only 4.5 inches in diameter when shooting from a standing position and 1.8 inches when shooting in the prone position. Skiing the course is strenuous enough without having to carry the extra weight, and as the final two shooting opportunities are undertaken standing up, and fatigue can impact the shooter’s ability to appropriately point the rifle, the ergonomics of the gun itself are extremely important.

The rifles are of a modular construction, allowing the skier to easily modify the configuration based on the variables of any particular race. In order to create the perfect set of components, Athletics 3D turned to 3D printing as a way to test and rapidly produce redesigns of the various pieces of the rifle. The increased speed of production combined with the low cost of 3D printing made experimentation easier and allowed them to create a better rifle, as Jacqueline explained:

“We have made several 3D printed prototypes. Zortrax Ecosystem did a great job prototyping the thing. We could get the feel right, the dimensions, the ergonomics…We work with the world’s leading manufacturers specializing in high-end sports equipment. It was their job to build the stock with intended, end-use materials. But it all starts with extensive prototyping, and for prototyping we have been using Zortrax equipment since 2015.”

This in no way diminishes the athleticism of the competitors, but rather reflects the way in which technology can and does allow them to perform at their best. As technology advances, we will see an increase in the producers of Olympic equipment utilizing 3D printing technology for both prototyping and production as the benefits for both maker and user are so clear.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source/Images: Zortrax]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

Polyga Releases Professional Handheld H3 3D Scanning System

Lung Cancer Treatment: 3D Printing Molds for Personalized Airway Stents



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing and COVID-19, May 29, 2020 Update: Lessons for Going Forward

Companies, organizations and individuals continue to attempt to lend support to the COVID-19 pandemic supply effort. We will be providing regular updates about these initiatives where necessary in an attempt to ensure...

Featured

Virtual AM Medical Event: From Innovations to the Future of Additive Manufacturing in the Medical Industry

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) hosted a first-of-its-kind event with experts discussing the instrumental role and impact of additive manufacturing (AM) on patient care. Originally set to take...

3D Printing Review in Drug Delivery Systems: Pharmaceutical Particulates and Membranes

Researchers from Egypt, India, and the UK are studying the role of 3D printing in drug delivery systems. Their findings are detailed in the recently released ‘Pharmaceutical Particulates and Membranes...

Sponsored

3DHEALS2020: A Not So Lonely Planet

Only a few weeks away from 3DHEALS2020, and I just got off the phone with one of our speakers, Dr. Ho, from NAMIC Singapore. Our brief interview reminded me just...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!