The Manufacturing Technology Centre worked with High Value Manufacturing Catapult colleagues and a Winter Paralympian to develop an award-winning sit-ski that’s lighter and more aerodynamic than conventional models.
Reduced weight and costs
Additive manufacturing reduced the weight of the sit-ski’s foot, push rod
and rocker assembly by 50% while saving on the cost of materials.
The sit-ski’s innovative design was recognised at the 2018 Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) awards.
In a change from their usual work as part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, engineers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) have helped develop an innovative sit-ski in collaboration with double Paralympian skier Anna Turney.
The sit-ski uses composite materials to make it 30% lighter than conventional designs but with all the strength required for the demands of the slopes. The project was designed to showcase all the technical capabilities that HVM Catapult engineers had developed on projects but were unable to share with their colleagues because of the commercial sensitivity of their work.
It began at the MTC, where engineers Morgan Williams and Ian Thompson developed a low-cost monitor to fit on Anna Turney’s sit-ski so they could measure accelerations, lean angles and suspension deflection.
The data was then used by the National Composites Centre (NCC) to build a digital twin of the sit-ski, which, along with the athlete’s weight and body measurements, could be used to analyse how the equipment performed in use. From there, NCC engineers were able to start designing new components and testing them virtually before manufacturing could begin.
The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) supported the MTC and NCC teams who were producing the components. By using additive manufacturing – where rather than shaping a block of material to fit, materials are added layer by layer to make a component – engineers were able to reduce the weight of the sit-ski’s foot, push rod and rocker assembly by 50% while saving on the cost of materials.
The sit-ski’s innovative design was recognised at the 2018 Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) awards, where it was a winner in the competition’s manufacturing technology category.
The technology and skills developed on the sit-ski project have since been used elsewhere. Ian Thompson said: “We used pretty much the same system to test vibrations in a truck carrying a fragile component on the roads around the MTC. There was a concern that speed bumps on the roads might damage the part, but we discovered that wear and tear on the roads – for example, potholes – caused more shock to the part than speed bumps.”
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