While 3D printing has been used for manufacturing processes till date, it also has found its place in R&D. Tom Dumoulin, a pro-cycle racer, was scanned from head to toe for 3D printing, as his team, TU Delft wanted to ensure that his bodysuit was perfect for him and not cause a hindrance to him while cycling.
These trails were conducted to ensure that this cycler from Netherlands would put up his best in the Tour De France. The University team worked to create a mannequin as close to Dumoulin’s body as possible. The testing would be done by using aerodynamics as the parameter. Athletes usually miss their chance in the top slot in a race due to the difference in aerodynamics.
The clothing of the runner should be refined to minimal. The team Giant Alpecin and the university collaborated to conduct these experiments as the difference between Dumoulin’s timing and the runner up was only twenty-thousandth of a second.
In this process, Dumoulin’s body was first scanned by a company called th3rd. It used the photogrammetric method in which they used 150 DSLR cameras to take his pictures from various angles. A 3D printed clone was then made. Various trails in the TU Delft wind tunnel were done with different body suits on the clone’s body.
This huge amount of data had to be compiled intelligently by a method called 3D segmenting. The next step was 3D printing. A standard 3D printer was used to print the image. It took 50 hours to 3D print the mannequin to 20 micrometers. The method of Fused Deposition Modelling, which 3D prints layer by layer, was used.
The body was 3D printed in 8 parts and they were joined using the pin-and-hole joints method.
Further, various fabrics and suits were trailed to arrive at the perfect body suit for the cycler.