- The iCAE Lab of Seoul National University of Science and Technology (hereinafter referred to as SeoulTech) develops blindfolds customized for individual biathlon athletes
- Supports national athletes of the Korea Paralympic Committee, one of whom is expected to win the first gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
The Republic of Korea’s national team, which has never won a gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games, aims to bag the gold at the “PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.” The prospective candidate to win the gold is Sin Eui-hyun (Changsung Engineering and Construction), a para cross-country skier of the national team of the Republic of Korea, who has won the right to compete in a total of six sub disciplines, that is, three cross-country skiing disciplines and three biathlon disciplines, which combine cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.
Among the winter sports, biathlon is the only discipline that includes shooting. As such, it offers an exciting and enjoyable marathon on snowy fields and shooting at the same time, thereby drawing interest globally. In particular, because biathlon entails rifle shooting while the athletes’ heart rate exceeds 150–160 beats per minute, as they also engage in a ski marathon, it is important for athletes to catch their breath and quickly take the rifle aiming posture to improve their records.
Therefore, Sin is drawing much attention for wearing an individually customized cutting-edge blindfold wherein 3-D printing technology has been merged for improved performance as a biathlon athlete. SeoulTech’s Department of Mechanical System and Design Engineering and iCAE Lab (responsible professor: Park Geun) utilized 3-D scanning and 3-D printing technology to develop “blindfolds customized for individual biathlon athletes” and support the national team athletes of the Korea Paralympic Committee.
▲ The biathlon athletes of the Korean para national team and SeoulTech’s research team are taking a commemorative photo after the 3-D scans of the athletes’ faces were taken in October last year.
SeoulTech’s iCAE Lab is currently developing and researching “technology for the production of high-strength plastic material and 3-D printing of the multiple nozzles method to manufacture sports and rehabilitation-assisting equipment customized for individuals,” supported by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. In January last year, the research team contacted the Korea Biathlon Union and proposed to produce blindfolds customized for each athlete. The team was thus asked to produce blindfolds customized for five athletes by Coach Son Seong-rak of the Korean para biathlon national team in September last year. In October, the researchers used 3-D scanning to acquire the facial shape information of the athletes upon their return from off-season training overseas.
Afterward, the researchers (undergraduate students Gu Bon-a, Kim Jae-eun, and Ha Yeon-su) 3-D designed the blindfolds customized for each athlete and used 3-D printing to manufacture trial products. In the process, the polylactic acid (PLA) material of TLC Korea Co., Ltd. and a single printer of Cubicon Co., Ltd., which are participating in a research project conducted with the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, were used to manufacture the trial products. As such, pure Korean technologies were applied to manufacture them.
After manufacturing the trial products, they were checked with the athletes and redesigned several times to supplement them. Blindfolds customized for the five athletes of the national team (Sin Eui-hyun, Lee Jeong-min, Won Yoo-min, Kwon Sang-hyeon, and Lee Seung-jin) were finally delivered before the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup in November 2017.
The athletes’ level of satisfaction with the customized blindfolds clearly manifested during the off-season training. As a result, Sin won a silver medal and two bronze medals in all three disciplines at the “2017 Canmore World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup,” posting 95% shooting accuracy rate, which was higher than the previous 80%–85% record. Subsequently, he won a silver medal at the World Cup held in Germany (January 29, 2018) and a gold medal at the World Cup held in Finland (February 5, 2018). As such, he heightened his probability of winning a medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
The iCAE Lab equally had the honor of winning the Grand Prix (Minister of Science and ICT Award) with its “customized blindfold project” at the “Sixth 3-D Printing Makers’ Field Contest, 3-D Printing Dreams Come True!” in January 2018.
▲ (From left to right) Students Kim Jae-eun, Ha Yeon-su, and Gu Bon-a, and Adviser Professor Park Geun