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product development | Update 3D printing gets right to the point


The University of Tsukuba in Japan is using an Objet350 Connex multi-material 3D printing system from Stratasys as part of its research into sports science and training. The University carries out


research and development in three key areas: sports equipment, training and conditioning. One of its recent projects resulted in the development of the equipment used by the Japanese fencing team (which won a silver medal in last year’s London Olympics).


The hilt of a fencing sword


is customised to fit the fencer’s hand perfectly. The traditional way of doing this is to hand-file a standard blank to achieve the required fit and non-slip


surface. If the sword is broken, reproducing the same fit is a time-consuming and difficult task. For the 2012 Olympics,


researchers scanned the equipment used by the Japanese team then used the Objet350 machine to produce a total of 70 iterative prototypes, each with minute variations based on the athlete’s feedback. “Players are not engineers.


They talk about their require- ments instinctively. So, bearing this in mind, we developed various patterns based on different assumptions. With the Objet Connex multi-mate- rial 3D Printer, we can do this easily,” says researcher Osamu Takeda.


With its build accuracy of 16


microns, the Objet350 machine was used to create a set of five identical spare hilts for each team member, giving each the security of an identical replacement. “Stratasys 3D printers have a long history with the sports


world, spanning everything from the design of customised running shoes to the 3D printing of end-use parts for bikes and snowmobiles,” says Jon Cobb, executive vice president marketing at Stratasys. ❙ www.stratasys.com


Protomold powers up part design at KTM


Austrian specialist motorcycle maker KTM is using Proto Labs’ Protomold service for production of prototype and production injection moulded components.


With an annual production


volume of only 110,000 motorcycles the company is a niche player in the motorcycle world. But that does not mean it can cut corners on its product development process. “The pressure on the


product development team is enormous,” says Helmut Gröbner, group leader for plastic components at KTM and head of a design team of 10. “If a plastic part is approved for production it has to be 100% right. We leave nothing to chance. Our


34 INJECTION WORLD | October 2013


customers trust us implicitly.” KTM’s designers develop


new plastic parts as 3D CAD models. All are subjected to static and dynamic FEA and mould filling analysis before committing to a prototype, which the company’s engi- neering team wants to be as close to a production compo- nent as possible. Gröbner says the company has its own 3D printing


capacity in house but, while excellent for visualisation, this technology is not capable of proving the mechanical performance of a design. KTM recently used the


Protomold service for a filter cover, which was being converted from metal to plastic. “We already had ideas


how we would make the part in plastic, but time was very short indeed and series production was imminent. We had to find a solution, quickly,” says Gröbner. The first parts delivered


from Proto Labs part immedi- ately showed up problems with the fit and securing mecha- nism but after some design revisions the part proved perfect. “In just five weeks, we had tried two versions, finalised the design and taken delivery of 5,000 finished parts of production quality,” he says. Gröbner also used the Proto Labs service during develop- ment of a rear-view mirror for the latest KTM 1190 Adventure (pictured). ❙ www.protolabs.co.uk


www.injectionworld.com


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