For the next 16 days from opening to closing ceremonies thousands of athletes who have trained their whole lives will complete in Rio for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Getting all they can to help them achieve victory athletes will go to extreme measures to make sure they have what they need to beat the competition. From 3D printed shoes to cycling prosthetics to handlebars and to the 2016 Rio Olympic logo, it seems as though 3D printing and 3D technology is all that everyone is talking about and using at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
3D Printed Shoes
Olympians are some of the most prodigious athletes around the world, with "god" like skills there's no other place beside the Olympics that they could ever compete. Thanks to their coaches, hard earned practice and science these olympians are the best of the best at what they do but sometimes they need a little bit of help.
Every second of every minute on the clock matters, sometimes even down to the milliseconds. Athletes never stop and for the 2016 Rio Olympics some races come down to seconds and even then milliseconds. It seems as those 3D printed shoes have been the all the rave for the 2016 Rio Olympic and from Nike to Adidas to Under Armour it doesn't seem to want to stop.
Nike is one of the leading shoes manufacturers in the world and for the 2016 Rio Olympics Nike introduced the Zoom Superfly Elite with the help of Olympic Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. For years Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had worked with Nike's Sport Research Lab to test and redesign a shoe that would give her the best ideal performance. Nike used 3D printing to make several spike plates each giving Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce different amounts of stiffness which was to measure the rebounding factor of the plates. Shane Kohatsu, Nike's innovation design director, says that that was the key to helping her find her maximum potential.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce isn't the only Olympic Champion to work with Nike on designing 3D printed shoe, Allyson Felix also worked with Nike to create the Superfly Elite and debuted her shoe at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Allyson Felix main goal with Nike was to give the runner the ability to push off slightly faster and have more control while reducing the sprinting shoe giving the runner several crucial seconds off the overall time. The Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit is the result of exhaustive scientific analysis from Nike’s Sports Research Lab, computational design from their designers and pixel-level stitch placement from Nike Flyknit engineers.
It was announced that Adidas-sponsored athletes who would win medals at the Olympics will also be taking home pairs of the brand's first 3D printed sneakers. Dubbed the "3D-Printed Winners Shoe" the laces will come in either gold, silver or bronze to represent the athlete’s Olympic success. The entire sole of the shoe is 3D printed with a plastic honeycomb web design and means that the shoe doesn’t even have to go through the usual process of gluing or stitching the two together adding another "victory" for the "3D-printed Winners Shoe." Even better the Adidas spokesperson says that the "3D-printed Winners Shoe" has been fully tested and is approved for running in. Yes, you can wear them without worrying that they'll break before taking any steps.
The 3D Architect trainers are Under Armour's newest red, white, and blue pair of sneakers that implement the best aspects of 3D-printing into their design. The shoe construction features 3D printed midsole technology that Under Armour first unveiled earlier this year under the UA Architect brand.
The SLS 3D printed shoe is beyond intricate in its design and the lattice structure provides an intriguing look into the future. The 3D Clutch Fit trainers are lightweight, functional and scientifically designed to give us all a boost.
The world’s greatest ever Olympian, Michael Phelps, has enjoyed the support of 3D printing through the 2016 Rio Olympics even though there isn’t so much that a 3D printer can do for Phelps in the pool. But on dry land, Olympian needs a pair of trainers to cushion his massive frame and famous size 14 feet.
So Under Armour, which is based in Phelps’ home town of Baltimore, made him a special pair of Architect trainers for the opening ceremony. Under Armour says they even added a personal touch to the sneakers: the footprint of Phelps’ infant son Boomer is 3D printed on the insole of the shoe as “a personal reminder that Boomer is with him every step and stroke of the way.”
3D Printed Handlebars
The French Cycling Federation have developed custom 3D printed Jet One handlebars for seven of their french athletes that will be completing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. French prototyping and additive manufacturing company Erpro & Sprint 3D printed the bars on a 280 SLM printer, operating with laser fusion technology. Erpro & Sprint took advantage of all the possibilities of 3D design and printing technologies to create state-of-the-art and Olympic worthy handlebars. These handlebars were designed to incorporate an interior lattice structure, which both contributes to the strength of the handlebars and also significantly reduce the weight of the bikes, which we have seen in several other featured items for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
During races, aerodynamics and weight are absolutely key to a cyclist’s performance. As races are often determined by a fraction of a second, having even just a slight edge over a competitor can make all the difference. On the track, these bikes will reach top speeds of around 80 km/h and with these new handlebars they are at least expecting to shave off a few hundredths of a second from race times and hopefully bring many medals home for France.
3D Printed Prosthetics
Autodesk has teamed up with Denise Schindler, a German paralympic cyclist, to design her a 3D printed prosthetic leg and put it to good use for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Prior to the collaboration with Autodesk, Schindler had her prosthetic leg made using a plaster casting process it was effective, but slow to produce and relatively expensive.
Autodesk took a 3D scan of the athlete’s residual limb, which was then digitally rendered and then digitally modeled a prosthetic leg using Autodesk cloud design tool Fusion 360. The team used Autodesk to also reduce the weight of the prosthesis which now only weighs 812 grams (1.79 lb) and thanks to the dramatic weight difference she has shaved 2 seconds off her 3km ride since using the method. The 3D printed prosthetic is also 25 percent less expensive than conventional alternatives, so that's a win for Denise Schindler right there.
With the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games coming up in a few weeks she hopes that after winning a silver medal at the London Paralympics in 2012 she can continue doing the same and hopefully even up winning a gold medal.
2016 Rio Olympic Logo
The 2016 Rio Olympics has proudly displayed it is an essential part of the games that has to capture the spirit of the host country and competition all into one. Designer Frederico Gelli and his team spent two months brainstorming and came up with a concept for a logo that truly captures the spirit of the games.
The idea came when Gelli was swimming at Ipanema Beach. “I took a dive and when I came up, I saw the the hills and mountains around Rio de Janeiro. This city is in the middle of a sculpture garden, not only by Sugarloaf Mountain, but all of the mountains that surround Rio”, it was the perfect setting for the logo.
This year the Olympic medalists did not receive any flowers during the medal ceremonies but instead they received 3D printed versions of the Olympic logo – a logo that was specifically designed to be a 3D image. The 3D printed version allows the visually impaired athletes in the Paralympics to truly feel what they’re fighting for and it gives the city a symbol that represents their very core. Hearing the work, passion and dedication that went into creating the 2016 Rio Olympic logo is humbling in itself and it simply couldn’t have happened without 3D printing.
Future of the Olympics
Does the future of the Olympics lie in technology and does 3D printing play a more primitive role in future years to come? From 3D printed shoes to handlebars and 3D printed prosthetics it seems as though there's nothing technology can't reach in the Olympics. The 2016 Rio Olympics only gave us a tiny glimpse at the future of the Olympics and we can't wait to see what will debut next. It's going to be a pretty long wait to see what the 2018 Winter Olympics has to offer in PyeongChang, South Korea.