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3D Printed Wheelchair Racing Gloves Aid Australian Parathlete

3DPrint reports on a parathletic innovation brought about by the wonders of 3D printing.  Scott Crowley, who is a disabled triathlete from South Australia, participated in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games recently.

Crowley isn’t just an athlete, however.  Along with his wife, Clair, Crowley has started a business called The Good Scout, which “is a platform for helping people plan accessible travel adventures.  Their business idea was to develop an accessible travel directory specifically for people with limited mobility.”

Due to their business, the Crowleys won a spot at co-working space ThincLab at the University of Adelaide.  The TechLab Manager and 3D Engineer in Charge of ThincLab’s 3D Printers, Morgan Hunter, “asked Crowley how he was able to push his way through the punishing course. Crowley told him that he used gloves, which he made himself, during the final wheelchair leg of the race. The gloves allow him to hit the top of the tires on his track chair, so he can keep going forward, fast.”

As Hunter explains: “Scott told me that he bought a kit that basically came with plastic beads that he melted down and formed to his hands.  I thought, ‘that’s just crazy, there is no way that he could get the right shape and he must burn his hands’.”

So, Hunter had an idea.  He asked Crowley to bring in his gloves in order for them to discover a better [3D printed] solution.  After months of development, Hunter and Crowley created 3D printed gloves.  These gloves, which cost only $100 each, “resemble pistons Crowley can grab with his fist, and are made with Onyx carbon fiber-reinforced nylon from Markforged.”

Hunter developed two pairs – “a dry weather version with a rubber face, and a pair for wet weather, which will stick to wet tires thanks to an abrasive face.”

Even though Crowley did not win his race at the Commonwealth Games, he says “this is the first 3D printed glove I’ve ever had.  It’s custom to my hand – it’s very light but still very strong, and it’s consistent.  It’s good to have that consistency of shape.  So far, the new gloves have performed excellently, much better than my normal gloves.  Because they’re light, they also help with recovery time.  I’m definitely happy with the outcome.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint

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