Case StudiesIndustrial Additive ManufacturingSports

Targeting the winter sporting goods market with 3D printed ski goggles

OECHSLER project replaces conventional multi-component frame with single component

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Ski goggles seem like relatively simple pieces of equipment but they are made of as many as 13 different. The multiplicity of parts can lead to a higher failure potential during production, a higher risk of product failure, and ultimately higher costs. Starting from this premise, OECHSLER set out to disrupt the winter sporting goods market and rethink ski goggles by 3D printing them as a single piece using a TPU material and powder bed fusion technology.

In the newly released case study, conducted just ahead of the winter season, the Bavarian company decided to set new standards, which lead to fewer parts, more comfort, and functionality. This whole process took just about a week – from product design to production.

OECHSLER is continuously striving for creative solutions to increase the function, comfort, and production effectiveness of products. The project “skiing goggles” was facing a multitude of challenges: the used PU foam should be replaced by an additively manufactured lattice structure, the number of parts should be minimized to the bare minimum and the wearing comfort increased. To reach this goal the development team used a reverse-engineering approach: this meant dismantling standard ski goggles to gain a detailed understanding of every single component and its function.

In the first dismounting step the team disassembled the lens swap including the rotatable element for lens removal. This element is necessary in case the lenses need to be changed – either due to weather conditions or simply due to renewal. Of course, this is a basic need new glasses must fulfill. Afterward, the outer frame, which is held by clips, was dismounted. This uncovered the foam as well as the inner layers of the goggle revealing that the foams are glued together – a production step OECHSLER intends to eliminate. In the last step, the buckets holding the elastic band were removed.

OECHSLER targets winter sporting goods market with 3D printed ski goggles, replacing conventional multi-component frame with single component

With fresh insights about the product, OECHSLER started the redesign process. Two options were evaluated: Either create an all-in-one product and eliminate all mounting steps or reduce elements so just the foams would be replaced with a 3D- printed lattice. In the first case, OECHSLER would have to reconstruct foams by lattice, reduce the design to one frame by full TPU print, as well as integrate rotatable parts into the TPU printed frame. That’s what the company set out to do

For this approach the team needed to have a deep understanding of standard ski goggles to enable a one-component printable solution: if the lattice were too thin  it could break easily and the kinematics would not be guaranteed. If it were too thick the comfort would be reduced. After dismounting all components, the development team scanned all parts via CT to gain deeper insights into the component dimensions.

The components were subsequently reconstructed in a vector-based program to generate a suitable print file for the solid and lattice parts. Even though OECHSLER has extensive experience in creating new print files, most of the challenges in the workflow emerged not from the actual printing but from the post-processing steps. the company was able to address them and finalize the product, possibly opening up a new era for winter sporting goods in Germany (together with BMW).

Last year OECHSLER had also worked with BASF Forward AM on a radical new approach that completely replaced the foam conventionally used in backpack waistbelts and back paddings with 3D printed lattice comfort elements. Thanks to freely designable lattice structures, the companies used additive manufacturing technology and BASF’s Ultrasint TPU01 material to create a fully integrated cushioning system that unlocks vastly superior comfort. The open-cell structure of the 3D printed back pads and hip fins maximize ventilation and minimize heat accumulation, thus significantly reducing body touchpoint temperature and humidity build-up.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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