Life is in the details, or so the saying goes. This same applies to the Olympics, where the smallest improvements can help an athlete's performance. A new ski-pole handle design, by Crucam (Livonia, MI), may help propel three-time Olympic downhill skier, A.J. Kitt, to victory. The major change in the design was the grip, or ribs, along the back of the handle, says Dave Smith, project manager at Crucam.
Using reverse engineering, surface geometry data was digitized from an existing handle and fed into CAMAX, a computer-aided manufacturing software package from Structural Dynamic Research Corporation (SDRC, Milford, OH). The numerically-controlled programming package was used to generate surface data for the new design. "CAMAX has excellent surface modeling capabilities," says Smith. "We can model the part, build surfaces for the part mold, and develop programs to cut the mold, all with the same software package."
Straight cuts were made directly into the handle with a band saw or a razor blade to develop a basic concept. This latest information was added to the CAMAX-generated surface model. "We played on the computer with groove spacing and the number to come up with the right placement for good grip," says Smith. Rib position was based on "feel," that is comfort, taking care not to cut the grooves too deep. From a manufacturing perspective, Smith says this type of design works better in the final mold. After obtaining the optimum groove placement, Smith used the software to add detail--smoothing out rib edges and adding a slight curvature to the design so that the hand is naturally led downward to rest on the handle base.
The finished handles now sit on top of Pencil(TM) poles by Goode.