AMS Spring 2023

Zortrax Vapor-Smoothing Refines Surface of 3D Printed Olympic Pistol

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French competitive sport shooter Céline Goberville, a multiple world champion and Olympic silver medalist, was looking for a custom-made grip for her 10-meter air pistol shooting event ahead of last month’s European Shooting Championships in Croatia, and turned to 3D printing to get the job done. She and her sister Sandrine, also a multiple national champion in sport shooting, reached out to French company Athletics 3D, which uses its farm of Zortrax 3D printers to fabricate sports gear for professional athletes.

“Céline has proven time and time again that she is perfectly capable of winning European Championships whole tournament. This is why we used Zortrax 3D printing technology in making custom equipment for her,” Clement Jacquelin, chief designer and CEO of Athletics 3D, explained at the time. “We could cost-effectively iterate through multiple prototypes and get the design just right. At the highest level of competition, the difference between winning and losing often boils down to tiny details and marginal gains. After the European Championships we will draw our conclusions and have just enough time for adjustments before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.”

Céline Goberville won the bronze medal at the European Shooting Championships

The pistol grip, manufactured on a Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer, went through multiple iterations, and Goberville trained with them all, before going on to win a bronze medal at the European Shooting Championships with the final 3D printed grip. As it was the last major event before the Olympics, which start in Tokyo this week, it was also her last chance to request any further design adjustments, and Goberville, while being happy with the weight and geometry of the grip, wanted a smoother surface. So Athletics 3D looked once again to Zortrax technology—specifically the Zortrax Apoller, a smart vapor-smoothing device for post-processing.

“In shooting sports, there are top-level athletes who prefer the grip rough. This way, they told me, they could hold it firmly with no worries about the weapon slipping away from their hands. Celine, however, is different. She wants the grip to be as smooth as possible,” Jacquelin explained. “So, the changes we made to the grip after the championship went in that direction – we were working to make it as smooth as possible. And to achieve this we used the Zortrax Apoller SVS post-processing device.”

Grip prior to smoothing on the left, and after smoothing on the right

The Zortrax Apoller uses a proprietary SVS (Smart Vapor Smoothing) technology, developed by Zortrax itself, to improve the surface quality of 3D printed parts made with FFF and LPD technologies. 3D printed models made using these processes typically have visible layer lines, and the Zortrax Apoller removes these lines with MEK or acetone vapors. During a three-hour-long process, these vapors swirl around the 3D printed model inside a sealed smoothing chamber, and at the end, the layering is pretty much gone, leaving behind an ultra-smooth surface.

Athletics 3D manufactured and vapor-smoothed two identical grips for Goberville to use in the 2021 Olympics, one of which will be acting as a spare, as sporting equipment like pistol grips can get damaged during transportation to events.

For more information on the 3D printed and vapor-smoothed pistol grip, you can check out the full case study on the Zortrax blog.

(Source/Images: Zortrax)

 

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