The XXIII Winter Olympic Games are in full swing in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 110 miles east of Seoul. This is the second time the Olympic Games have been held in South Korea with the other being the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. Stratasys played a role in helping the US Luge Team go for gold by incorporating additive manufacturing into the sleds being used in this year’s games.
The US Luge Team quickly realized the immense potential for additive to gain a competitive advantage and worked with Stratasys engineers to develop an entirely new process for fabricating their composite sleds. In a matter of days, they were able to design, print, and test prototype sled designs, which would normally take weeks or months using their existing processes. This allowed the team to drastically reduce the design cycle, which in turn, allowed for continuous improvement to create the fastest sled possible.
Once the design was finalized, they were then able to use the same FDM technology to print the tooling required for fabrication of the composite sled. Traditional methods of composite fabrication are tedious and expensive so it was time and cost-prohibitive to create custom sleds for each athlete. The design freedom from additive manufacturing enabled the team to create customized sleds that were tailored to each athlete’s body, which in turn, drastically improved comfort, ergonomics and most importantly, final performance. It’s really exciting to see how this technology will push the limits of human endurance for Olympic athletes.