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How 3D printing is enhancing the performance of Olympic athletes
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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Olympic cycling teams competing in Tokyo have been using 3D scanners and printers to customize bike parts to the exact requirements of their athletes. The teams use 3D printers to create new bike stems, handlebars and chainsets without the need for expensive tooling or moulds.

Additive manufacturing is also being applied in a wide range of other sports. For athletes competing in the upcoming Paralympic Games, for example, 3D printing provides a more efficient way to build lighter and more aerodynamic prostheses and wheelchairs.

In the wider world of sport, 3D printers have been used to make everything from running shoes and ski boots to surfboards and parts for racing cars. Professional golf players use customized 3D printed clubs to enhance their performance.

They can also be essential when accidents happen. Not so long ago, facial injuries, such as fractured noses or cheekbones, would have meant long periods of inactivity for footballers while their injuries healed.

Nowadays, medical professionals simply scan the face of the injured footballer to create bespoke 3D-printed face masks. There have been several high-profile examples, in recent years, of footballers in some of Europe’s top leagues who have been able to continue playing thanks to their masks.

International standards have played a crucial role in ensuring the reliability, efficiency and safety of 3D printers and the components they use. A number of technical committees and subcommittees contribute to the work.

ISO/IEC JTC 1, the joint technical committee of IEC and ISO, produces international standards for 3D printing and scanning, including foundational standards upon which other standards can be developed. In addition, a number of IEC technical committees and subcommittees work on identifying, developing and coordinating international standards for the electric and electronic components that are installed in the 3D printers being used in additive and subtractive manufacturing processes.

Among many other relevant parts and components are switches and relays covered by TC 17: Switchgear and controlgearTC 121: Switchgear and controlgear and their assemblies for low voltage; servo and stepper motors used to move the extrusion head or the sintering laser by TC 2: Rotating machinery,  and power supplies by TC 96: Transformers, reactors, power supply units, and combinations.

Most important are the different types of lasers used for sintering metals and polymers. TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, is the leading body on laser standardization, including the high-power lasers used in industrial and research applications. Its work is essential to 3D printing.

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