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LulzBot Mini 3D Printer Helps Agency Get New Runner-Pacing Tool onto the Racetrack

by • August 8, 2016 • No Comments


Usain Bolt, the most rapidly man in the world

Have you been watching the Olympics this past week? This coming weekend is going to be a big one for track and field, which has always been one of my favorites. I’m in awe of the capabilities of all Olympian athletes, but as a former runner, I’m particularly astonished by track champions. Running is complex, and running well is additional than just being swift. It involves careful planning, pacing, assessment of your environment and competitors – it’s a additional cerebral sport than most folks realize.

Proper pacing is especially significant, and especially challenging, actually for pro runners. Most runners, at one point or another, have blown a race or actually injured themselves by running too complex too early, burning themselves out preceding the significant last leg of the race. It is not a thing you’d ponder 3D printing may assist with, or actually have anything remotely to do with, but – surprise! – it turns out which it can and does.

download (25)Learning how to pace oneself is a significant part of a runner’s training, but it’s tricky; most runners pace themselves against other folks, but other folks aren’t always consistent or pacing wisely themselves. Alexandra Kline, an engineering student at California Polytechnic State University, came up with a new thought – why not turn it into a digital pace-setter? She approached digital create company Viget, who favored the thought and started developing it right away.

The concept involves a long strip of LED lights which encircles the inner perimeter of the track and is connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. The app allows for coaches to set speed, distance, intervals and actually light color (to set the pace for multiple runners at a time). Runners and so pace themselves against the light, which moves around the track perimeter according to the app’s settings. The coach can in addition monitor the runners directly inside the app.


3D printed ratchet connectors

The innovation, now called TrackPacer, is yet in the prototype stage, but it’s attained excellent feedback of the universities and pro runners who have tested it so far. To get the process up and running as rapidly as possible, Viget turned to a LulzBot Mini 3D printing device to print ratchet connectors which attach the LED strips to the track. According to Justin Sinichko, a complexware manufacturer at Viget, 3D printing was the just way to go for this part of the project.

“We wanted a way to rapidly get this thing on the track without going down the injection molding route,” Sinichko said. “It would’ve been not easy without 3D printing.

“Throughout the course of a 400-meter track, there’s the future to quite mess up a few distances, and for anything which’s pace-based, you’ve got to have distance and time spot on. That connector enables you to do two things: One, get which thing on the track, but two, in addition manufacture certain which they’re precisely where we require them to be and manufacture slight adjustments over the course of 400 meters.”

It took less than a week to print all of the necessary connectors, with the LulzBot Mini running consistently and printing multiple connectors at one time. Sinichko praised the ease of use and reliability of the printing device, as well as the Cura LulzBot Edition software – particularly the Quickprint Profiles which were added in the latest update of the software.


“Cura LulzBot Edition by far is so easy to use [and a] excellent slicer utility,” Sinichko said. “We were attempting to find a utility which the whole office may use, and the default profiles…solve 99.9 percent of what we are attempting to do.”

The upcoming step can be bringing the innovation of prototype to product. The final version can most likely be generated by various means, but for the 400-meter, 12,000-LED prototype, 3D printing was the ideal version. In Sinichko’s opinion, each product development lab should have a 3D printing device. It saves time, it saves money, and consequently saves both agency and client a lot of stress. Discuss additional in the 3D Printed Mini Pacer forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: LulzBot]