Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

The term “technology doping” refers to athletes gaining a competitive advantage via their sports equipment. The latest version of the code (2015 with 2018 amendments) of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not mention technology doping, with WADA allowing each sport’s governing body to make its own rules on it.

Advances in technology have obviously and significantly contributed to the evolution of sport. For example, rackets were traditionally made of wood and strung with animal intestines, and football helmets used to be made of leather; 3D printing clearly has the potential to advance sports equipment technology even further.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, the biathlon was one by France’s Martin Fourcade 12 seconds ahead of runner up Sebastian Samuelsson of Sweden; Fourcade was also the only one of the top seven competitors to hit all their targets in the final shooting round. The rifle he used was developed by self-proclaimed “conçoit et développe des produits d’exception pour servir la performance de champions sportifs d’exception” (designs and develops exceptional products to serve the performance of exceptional sports champions) company Athletics 3D of Villard-de-Lans; prototypes for the design were 3D printed in ABS on a Zortrax M200. Athletics 3D was founded by Clément Jacquelin, who won the Youth World Champion biathlon in 2009. Also at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the American Luge Team collaborated with 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys of Eden Prairie, Minnesota to use partially 3D printed sleds.

Circa February 2014, multinational sports equipment manufacturer Nike of Beaverton, Oregon unveiled 3D printed conceptual cleats codenamed the Nike Vapor HyperAgility, built specifically for American football’s 20-yard shuttle run drill. Circa April 2018, they released what they described as “the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear,” which was codenamed the Nike Flyprint. The first Nike Flyprint was made especially for long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who set the as of May 2019 men’s marathon world record of 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds at the Berlin Marathon in September 2018. Kipchoge arguably would have gone faster if he hadn’t been held back by the rain and humidity; he also complained that his shoes absorbed too much water. Nike responded by making some new 3D printed Flyprint uppers that were 11 grams lighter, which Kipchoge claims don’t absorb any water at all.

The debate over when advances in technology amount to technology doping was arguably epitomised at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships in Rome, Italy, where swimming’s international governing body decided to ban performance-enhancing, non-textile swimsuits from January 1st 2010. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, swimmers sporting the Speedo LZR Racer won almost all the gold medals on offer, also setting 23 out of the 25 new world records set there. Only time will tell if anything similar happens in the future.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “1904 Olympics- First heat of the fifty yard swimming Olympic Championship” is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in the United States because it was published or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before January 1, 1924. It is nonetheless attributed to the Missouri Historical Society.