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3D printed pistol grip helps Celine Goberville compete at Olympics

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Celine Goberville, a French 10 m air pistol shooter, won a bronze medal at the European Shooting Championships with a 3D printed pistol grip. For Celine, the event was the last final test before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Here’s how she fared in the finals and how the grip’s design evolved based on the conclusions her team drew analyzing her performance.

“The European championship was the last major tournament before the Olympics and, once back home, we got back to the drawing board to improve Celine’s 3D printed pistol grip”, said Clement Jacquelin, the CEO of Athletics 3D, the company that made the custom pistol grip Celine Goberville is currently using. According to Jacquelin, design changes in such equipment are often dictated by preference, rather than science.

“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, thinks differently. 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”, says Jacquelin.

The engineering team working at Athletics 3D began with 3D printing the grip once again using the same Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer. At this point, there were no changes in the geometry. The only parameter about to change was the smoothness of the surface. So, the grips were printed with the same combination of Z-ULTRAT and Z-SUPPORT Premium.

Once the grip was made, the team started a two-stage smoothing process. In the first stage, the grip was manually sanded with sandpaper. When the sanding was done, chemically smoothed with acetone vapors.

“The grip has a few more precise parts, especially at places where it is attached to the barrel and where internal batteries and electronics fit in. One of the key reasons behind using the Apoller for this project was that it can vary the amount of solvent applied to different areas of the model. This way, the grip was properly smoothed and all the necessary details were kept intact with unchanged dimensions and geometry”, claimed Jacquelin. Once the smoothing was done, the grip was painted and the Athletics 3D logo was stamped on it.

“Once we got the process right to achieve the desired surface finish, we made another, spare grip in the exact same way. I think it’s just another advantage of using 3D printers in such projects. You have a digital base of models saved on your hard drive or in the cloud and you can recreate each one of them in no time when necessary. And quite often it proves necessary because we’ve had multiple cases where the equipment got damaged by rough, careless handling at the airport”, said Jacquelin.

The spare grip was necessary since there is always a risk of sports equipment getting damaged in transit or during the competition. Celine Goberville is currently training with the revised, smoother pistol grips. According to Jacquelin, there are going to be no further design changes before the Olympics.

“We have the final design nailed. At this point, Celine needs to familiarize herself with the grip, train with it as much as she could and feel at ease with using it. She says she’s perfectly happy with our work. Further design changes will be considered after the Olympics. For now, we are happy with what we have done and aiming for Olympic gold”, said Jacquelin.

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo start on July 23rd and conclude on August 8th, 2021.

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Andrea Gambini

Andrea has always loved reading and writing. He started working in an editorial office as a sports journalist in 2008, then the passion for journalism and for the world of communication in general, allowed him to greatly expand his interests, leading to several years of collaborations with several popular online newspapers. Andrea then approached 3D printing, impressed by the great potential of this new technology, which day after the day pushed him to learn more and more about what he considers a real revolution that will soon be felt in many fields of our daily life.

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