The Olympics are a true test of grit, determination, and athleticism—it’s where the very best go to compete. Just as in past Olympics, we have seen technology play an increased role in training, preparation, and competition. 3D printing is an extremely popular technology for Olympic athletes and trainers because of its highly customizable nature.
With the quick turnaround time and product customization, 3D printing has been able to help the USA Luge team get down the track at faster speeds.
“Our coaches and our athletes are constantly thinking about new ways to go faster down the track,” Mark Grimmette, director of programming for USA Luge. “What 3D printing does is help us get those concepts to ice a lot faster.” (Axios)
Taking an idea and turning it into a product that can be tested in a matter of weeks instead of months, is a huge advantage of 3D printing technology for athletes. When sled design is tailored to an athlete’s body, they are able to perform at their best as they head down the track. Watch the USA Luge team talk about their 3D printing experience in this Stratasys video.
BBC ‘Extreme by Nature’ Commercial
We have to say, this is one of the best Olympic commercials we have seen and the fact that it utilizes 3D printing makes it even better. (View the BBC commercial here.)
“The video that may look computer-generated at first, features 3D printed props created by 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and miniature model work by ScaleModelStudios. While no information has been given on the manufacturing process of these props, Simon said in an interview with Creative Review that creating this film was quite a challenge.” (3D Adept Media)
The small space of the 3D printed cubes helped to squeeze the environment the Olympians play, by expressing their speed and sense of movement.
‘3D and AI’ Technology
It’s no surprise that technology can be found in almost every facet of the Olympic games—from AI powered disinfection robots to 3D mapping venues and analyzing athletes exact movements.
From Automation Alley: Baidu told the Global Times that through the quantitative analysis of “3D+AI” technology, a series of motion data such as precise sliding speed, flying height, landing distance and rotation angle can be superimposed with the original picture. The technical difficulty here is that it is not a static image overlay, but is implemented on a high-speed continuous action video, “which will assist referee scoring.”
Such 3D and AI technologies are also used for ski jumpers. Using virtual reality technology, Baidu said its AI Cloud has been used to reconstruct a 3D 1-to-1 model of the Shougang ski jump platform, a landmark winter sports venue in Beijing. The model allows spectators to gain an up-close view of athletes’ performance from an immersive VR viewpoint.
As 3D printing technology continues to mature, we are bound to see increased adoption by Olympic athletes.
Related blog post: 3D Printing Shines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
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