Snowboard brand Burton have used 3D printing to develop a new step-in system for snowboard bindings. Traditionally, straps are preferred by snowboarders rather than ‘Step-in’ binders which were developed years ago but never really took off. However, Burton have revisited the idea of strapless binding and are calling their new technology ‘Step-On’ perhaps to demonstrate a move away from the negative connotations attached to ‘Step-in’ which some snowboarders associate with a lack of reliability.
Burton have teamed up with Boa, a snowboard boot maker, to create special boots with ‘toe cleats’ and heel grabbing teeth in order to compliment use of the bindings. But it was through 3D printing that Burton were able to perfect the technology allowing them to reiterate designs continuously in order to create the perfect working binder.
Chris Doyle, Research and Development, was in charge of rapid prototyping for Burton and this binding technology. In a video released by Snowboarder Magazine, Doyle explained how it was selective laser sintering that really made the design possible by creating rideable prototypes. This enabled them ‘to go through all the super tricky details‘ in a short amount of time and as they had the machines in-house they could print as much as they wanted.
Rapid Prototyping was absolutely crucial to get this done.
Randy Torcom, vice president of brand marketing, and Chris Cunningham, vice president of product, explained how the team worked on these boots for five years going through ‘countless prototypes‘. Chris explains they couldn’t have done it without 3D printing and would not have been possible with the technology as you would have to commit to a design after the third prototype, perhaps this is why strapless binding was never truly successful before.
Strap free binding is not necessarily new but as TransWorld Snowboarding write in their rather critical review this offering does have something novel. While the reviewer noticed an audible noise coming from the shoes and binds while shifting his foot they did seem to do their job rather well.
Despite this, the review leads to the conclusion that while the new binding does work, they’re are not for the experienced snowboarder. This conclusion is based on personal preference with the reviewer being committed to strapped bindings and simply not favorable to the change. However, this does suggest the bindings are suited to beginners while also being perfect for older riders or those suffering from injuries or just people not wanting to continuously bend down to adjust their straps. Release of the boots and binding is expected for September 2017, next fall.
This is a great case of 3D printing being used for design. Why not vote for your own favorite 3D designer, 3D printing use or 3D printing innovation in the 3D Printing Industry awards.
Featured image of Burton Boa Step-On boots and Step-On binding. Photo by Gabe L’Heureux for Burton.