Elite Biathletes Reach Peak Performance with Athletics 3D and Forward AM

Fully customized biathlon rifles for maximum ergonomics and precision

In top-level professional sports, an athlete’s equipment is often the decisive factor between winning or just being one of the packs. This is especially true for the biathlon, an increasingly popular sport that’s also an Olympic discipline. It combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting and is all about speed and precision. With the rifle, biathletes have to hit a small target 50 meters away, just 4.5 to 11.5 centimeters across. Given the shooting distance and fatigue from the punishing ski circuit, rifle ergonomics are vital to biathletes’ successful performance.

Project Breakdown

Industry
Consumer Goods

Product
Components for biathlon rifles

Why Forward AM?
Perfect-fit AM material

Material Used
Ultrafuse® PP GF30

The result
Fully customized biathlon rifles for maximum ergonomics and precision

Challenge: Optimum ergonomics for maximum precision at top speed

Precision with the rifle is victory-critical in the biathlon – and how quickly biathletes can shoot can mean the difference between a medal and the wooden spoon. Modern biathlon rifles have a modular construction, which means that components can be swapped over to suit varying conditions. Competitive biathletes are constantly searching for new hardware to improve their shooting performance, as seconds make the difference. International top athletes equipped by Athletics 3D were looking into new rifle design options for the Biathlon World Cup 2022 season by using 3D technologies expertise.

To increase the precision and the speed of his shooting performance, the key was to optimize all contact areas between the rifle and the biathlete. For years, top athletes had worked closely with their equipment expert to improve wood-based rifle stocks – but this material had now been pushed to its absolute limits.

Solution: Bespoke 3D printed rifle components

Additive Manufacturing has recently opened up tremendous new possibilities for biathlon equipment. French sports equipment manufacturer Athletics 3D designed a comprehensive range of parts that can be fully customized to each athlete and precision-mounted on their own rifle.

Digitalization of a standing piece biathlon rifle stock. (Source: Focus Outdoor / Athletics 3D).

The material of choice for the highly demanding rifle components is Forward AM’s filament , an advanced engineering-grade filament consisting of 30 percent special glass fibers specifically designed for 3D printing. Its glass-fiber reinforcement makes ideally suited to exceptionally tough environments – and biathlon is a prime example. Even better, its outstanding UV resistance means it’s perfectly suited to applications with prolonged exposure to strong solar radiation. All in all, is a perfect match for biathlon applications.

 

 

3D printed standing piece fitted to athlete’s biathlon rifle stock (Source: Athletics 3D).
A biathlon rifle with 3D printed individualized components in action (Source Alain Lamour / Athletics 3D).

Result: Biathlete and rifle become one for maximum precision

Thanks to Additive Manufacturing, top athletes could now choose from a range of bespoke components for their own individual rifles. Digital 3D scanning and the ability to integrate the personal needs of each athlete means he received a fully customized biathlon rifle with perfect ergonomics.

“We acted on top athletes’ requests for excellent component robustness at low weight”, says Clément Jacquelin, Sports Engineer at Athletics 3D, “given the harsh outdoor conditions for the biathlon in both summer and winter. We therefore equipped their rifle with pieces uniquely adapted to the biathlete’s body and equipment morphology – and more than a match for the prevailing conditions. Ultrafuse® PP GF30 by Forward AM is perfect for this, delivering superb post-print material robustness and a top-quality inter-layer bond. Additive Manufacturing technology and material enabled us to meet athletes’ requirements, and they are now considering further components with Forward AM materials for the 2022 season.”

“Biathlon is practiced under both extreme summer and winter conditions. We therefore decided to use Ultrafuse® PP GF30 by Forward AM as it is outstandingly robust, light, and easy to print.”

Clément Jacquelin, Sports Engineer, Athletics 3D.

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