The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics draw to a close last Sunday, with the Chinese Short Track Speed Skating team cemented their new legacy with 2 gold medals and a record-setting performance in the 500m. Being one of the three skating disciplines at the Winter Olympics alongside Figure Skating and Speed Skating, Short Track Speed Skating evolves a higher level of competitiveness of positioning in a shorter distance.
High-quality skate blades are the essential equipment in assuring the best performance for the skaters. In early 2021, Farsoon Technologies signed a collaboration agreement with the Chinese Olympic Committee to develop a new generation of skate blades for the athletes. Taking the unique advantage of additive manufacturing, the brand-new ice skate blades are produced with the innovative AlMgSc alloy material, featuring light-weight, improved strength, and customized design for comprehensive performance.
The skate blades are typically made of tempered carbon steel with chrome coasting or aluminum for reduced weight. Developed from the traditional AlMg alloy, the AlMgSc (aluminum- magnesium-scandium) alloy is a new generation material customized for structural parts used in aerospace and automotive industries; the material features higher strength, excellent plasticity, and high-temperature resistance (250°C).
Thanks to the truly open Farsoon metal systems, the Farsoon R&D team is able to fine-tune the processing parameters of AlMgSc alloy and tested the mechanical properties such as strength, toughness, and fatigue. After a series of iterations, AlMgSc blades are additively produced with Farsoon’s metal laser sintering system FS421M with the best-optimized parameters; the performance of the AlMgSc blades offers the increased performance of lateral and tangential strength of the blades during the complex and rapid movements, compared to traditional aluminum alloy blades.
At the beginning of this project, a series of dynamic data of each skater is collected for analyzing the stress on the blades and stanchions during the starting, speeding, relays, and turns. According to the data, the Farsoon application R&D team conducted a variety of complex “design-build-test” topology optimization on the blade design for the best-streamlined geometry, with a significant weight reduction of over 20% compared with the traditional blade. The new designs also meet the requirements for quick installation, positioning, and processing of the blades.
“Farsoon’s 3D printed skate blades showcases better flexibility in use due to the reduced weight, which offers smoother and better ice grip at cornering and sharp turns.” A Short Track Speed Skater commented, “During our regular tests under many extreme conditions the optimized blades can successfully withstand the mechanical pressure generated by both intensive starting and fast sliding.”