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3D printed pistol grip at the Tokyo Olympics

22nd July 2021
Alex Lynn

Celine Goberville, a multiple world champion and Olympic silver medalist in 10m air pistol shooting, will compete at the Tokyo Olympics with a custom, 3D printed pistol grip. Zortrax Apoller, a smart vapor-smoothing device, has been successfully used to achieve ultra-smooth surface of the grip that met Celine’s requirements.

Celine’s pistol grip has been designed and manufactured on Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer by Athletics 3D, a French company that specializes in custom sprots equipment for professional athletes. After the long hours of training with various iterations of the grip on the shooting range, team Goberville took it to European Shooting Championships held in Croatia where Celine won a bronze medal. This was the last major event before the Olympics and last opportunity to implement adjustment in the design. Celine found the geometry and weight of the grip to be on point but wanted its surface to be smoother.

"In shooting sports, there are top-level athletes who prefer the grip rough. This way, they told me, they could hold it firmly with no worries about the weapon slipping away from their hands. Celine, however, is different. She wants the grip to be as smooth as possible. So, the changes we made to the grip after the championship went in that direction - we were working to make it as smooth as possible. And to achieve this we used the Zortrax Apoller SVS post-processing device,” said Clement Jacquelin, the CEO and founder of Athletics 3D.

Zortrax Apoller works in a proprietary SVS (Smart Vapor Smoothing) technology developed by Zortrax to improve surface quality of parts 3D printed in the LPD or FFF process. Due to a way these 3D printing technologies work, a 3D printed model usually has visible lines marking the spots where the printer finished one layer and moved on to another. To remove this layering, the Apoller uses MEK or acetone vapors which are circulated around the model in a sealed smoothing chamber. After a 3-hour long process, the layering is gone, and smoothed model is ready to use.

Athletics 3D has already 3D printed and vapor-smoothed two identical grips for Celine. One will be used in the competition, the other one will serve as a spare. According to Jacquelin, having a spare is particularly important at events held at relatively distant locations, since sports equipment tends to get damaged in transit.

Read the full case study available online at Zortrax Official Blog to learn more about how Athletics 3D works with team Goberville and how Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer and Zortrax Apoller SVS device have been used in this use case.

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