This is the beginning of a new era for custom ski equipment. Invented by three French people in 1984, 3D printing has seen its use explode since the year 2010, it is already used in medicine, luxury jewellery and aerospace industries. The high tech of winter sports equipment makes it an ideal candidate to participate in the outbreak of 3D printing technology, and for good reason, the research of companies in the field are beginning to give results quite exploitable. 3D printing: when advanced technology can boost sports performance…
First step reached by Stratasys with the ski printed in 3D
“Winter sports records are not all set in Sochi”, so in 2014 sports equipment maker Sastrasys announced on its blog the test of the first pair of ski printed in 3D. Ski manufacturing requires a robust, rigid material that is resistant to significant changes in temperature or humidity. That’s why 3D printing can be a great alternative for the sector. It remains for the moment very expensive because of material concerns, to manufacture the two prototypes it had for example to divide the ski into two parts because the available 3D printers for the moment cannot accept such a large size. 3D printing of functional skis therefore remains experimental.
The CEO and the chairmen of Stratasys testing the new 3D printed ski in North America in 2014
The alliance between Tailored fits and Materialize gives birth to the sole in 3D printing
In 2016, the partnership between the Swiss sports equipment manufacturer Tailored Fits and the materialize 3D printing specialist offers this new technology a promising future in the winter sports sector. Already used to make the soles of many professional runners, 3D printing proves to be very useful to improve the comfort in the ski boots and the performances of the skiers who wear them.
By scanning the arch of their clients with mobile 3D scanners, Tailored Fits ensures that the sole sold on average 200€ will be perfectly adapted to their needs. This technology prevents pressure points and pain in the shoe, reduces fatigue and reduces wear on the joints. The sole provides support for the foot and allows to extend the time of optimal comfort during the practice of skiing, it concerns both skiers who have their own equipment and inveterate landlords because it is not fixed on the shoe.
A real revolution for the sector
These advances are far from being insignificant, they will upset the ski equipment sector and for good reason: Tailored Fits has developed with Materialize an efficient mass production system to make this technology accessible to the general public. Scanners would be available in the reseller stores, scans are sent directly to Materialize which produces the soles and ships them. The company is studying the possibilities of change in the way of equipment and is currently working on the development in 3D printing of the lining of the ski boot. The prototype slippers and tongue are tested by professional skiers and will certainly be available on the market in early December 2017. Rumor has it that a national team will be equipped with this shoe lining during the Winter Olympics in February 2018.
3D printing is good for skiing and for the planet !
And what if this breakthrough for the sports equipment sector could also be an ecological breakthrough? Leader in the printing market, the French Armor 3D Printing invented in September 2016 an eco-friendly 3D printing filament, both recycled and recyclable. The company announced in March 2017 the signing of a partnership with the collaborative 3D printing platform Freelabster so that its users can test the OWA 3D filaments. Robust and technical, these filaments are made from: recycled ski boots! This is a huge opportunity for the sector and one dreams of circular producing ski equipment. Hoping that this rapprochement will inspire some ideas of alliance between Armor 3D Printing and Tailored Fits X Materialize in order to design us comfortable and eco-friendly ski boots.
During the Contamines Montjoie race the winners received a trophy printed in 3D by Lynkoa and MyFrenchfab