3D Printing at the 2018 Winter Olympics has already helped the USA win a silver medal in the luge, and now it has delivered gold for French biathlete Martin Fourcade.
To win an historic fifth gold medal in the skiing and shooting event, Fourcade shot a flawless final round using a rifle from Athletics 3D, which prototyped Fourcade’s equipment using a Zortrax M200 3D printer.
Rifling for biathlon gold
In the Winter Olympics biathlon event, competitors must fire a 3.5 kg customizable small-bore rifle at the targets, almost 50 m away. In the first two rounds of shooting, competitors are in prone position (lying on their front), and their target is 4.6 cm across.
In the final two rounds of shooting, the competitors aim standing up at a target that is 11.4 cm across, however, these rounds come after several rounds of pursuit skiing, meaning that they are more tired.
To optimize the ergonomics of his shooting rounds, Fourcade wanted a lighter rifle configuration. Athletics 3D, a sports technology company founded by former world champion youth biathlete Clément Jacquelin was chosen for the task.
3D printing a perfect score
Several different prototypes of Athletics 3D’s weapon was first modeled using CAD software and then sliced using Z-SUITE. These were then 3D printed using Z-ABS material on a Zortrax M200 3D printer, voted the Personal 3D Printer of the Year (FFF) at the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2017.
3D Printing allowed many concept designs to be tried and tested rapidly prior to manufacture. Jacquelin explained:
“Zortrax Ecosystem did a great job prototyping the thing. We could get the feel right, the dimensions, the ergonomics.”
Jacquelin tested each prototype using his expertise in the sport, before sending the chosen rifle configuration to sports manufacturers for assembly. When it came to the biathlon final, Martin Fourcade chose the white stock rifle variant designed by Athletics 3D.
It gave Fourcade a flawless final shooting round, and he went on to finish the 12.5 km ski pursuit 12 seconds ahead of rival Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson to win gold.
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Featured image shows Martin Fourcade winning his final ski pursuit. Photo via Nigerian Guardian/Getty Images.