Technology is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sports but the two have been closely tied to each other for a long time. Technology pushed villagers in Britain to switch from using balls made of a cow’s stomach to a different, sturdier fabric for their longwinded football games. New technologies in the early 20th century helped develop custom padding and head protection for American football players. Ice rinks were created through the aid of technology so that hockey players were no longer at risk of falling through the ice on lakes. It brought about the switch from wooden to composite bows, revolutionizing the way archers competed. This is not a new concept by any means, but people are still fascinated with how technology is constantly changing the game, and they have a right to be! With the technology boom in recent decades comes further development of the sciences behind sports, engineers and mathematicians becoming just as instrumental as the players. Most professional teams and competitors now rely on precision when it comes to the design of their equipment, so aid from 3D modeling software has been in high demand.
Computer-aided design, engineering, and manufacturing may be a relatively new concept to many fans out there, but all three processes are deeply integrated into competitive sports. Equipment manufacturing has started incorporating new technologies such as 3D printing, allowing space for greater creativity and inventiveness with designs. Athletes and engineers collaborate more than ever to gain the upper hand on their competition, ushering in a new age where the line between science and sports has substantially blurred. Callaway Golf was one of the first companies to bring about a significant integration of engineering in their industry. Alongside their competitors, Callaway’s golf clubs were being designed through trial and error, the metaphorical playing field becoming stagnant and frustrating to navigate. In order to boost their own productivity in this new decade, the company hired a team of engineers to manage the making of a new kind of club. Production rates increased to new heights along with the quality of their clubs. Callaway then took a step further by partnering with Teamcenter® in 2007, integrating NX to create and model new designs that brought about precision to almost all aspects of their products.
Siemens PLM Software has been aiding its customers for many years to have an edge in their respective fields of play. They’ve provided a means for Red Bull Racing to produce parts for the F1 racing vehicles at a higher rate, giving them the means to try many different variations of their cars. The precision of the model could be the determining factor in how a car performs, and NX is their preferred tool to ensure that their drivers have the most advanced and optimized vehicles on the raceway. NX has also taken to the seas, becoming the number one choice for a team competing in one of the most well-known and advanced sailing events across the globe.
The America’s Cup is running throughout the month of June this year in Bermuda. Five teams are competing in order to challenge the defending champions. Each team has designed their own catamaran, every vessel featuring unique choices that could alter the racing game in years to come. For example, this year the team from New Zealand has added a pedal based propulsion system, where normally most of that work would be done by hand with a cranking mechanism.
Siemens PLM partnered with the Britain based team, Land Rover BAR for this year’s competition and has played an essential role in the design of their catamaran. The team utilized the latest version of NX™, coupled with Teamcenter® to create this advanced, high-speed sailing ship. It was imperative that their engineers designed a boat that performed exceptionally right out of the gate. Rules of the competition dictate that all teams are not allowed to test their vessels until 150 days before the races are held. Land Rover BAR got their ship into the water with as few hiccups as possible, sending back data to their design team immediately so that improvements could be implement as swiftly as possible. It’s a very stressful period for all the competing teams, but even under the pressure, they produce amazing crafts that go above and beyond anyone’s expectations. Unfortunately, Land Rover BAR did not move on to compete in the semi-finals, but they are determined to return the competition with new ideas on how to design the latest model of their catamaran.
Two other companies using NX to create sports/recreational equipment are Black Diamond and Rotor Bike Components. Black Diamond provides equipment for athletes that have taken to the snowy slopes and has most recently been using the NX software to create a unique kind of boot, one that free-form skiers can comfortably use when they head up the mountain. These boots essentially allow the skiers to both hike in them and then clip them into their skies when they descend. Industrial Design and Styling solutionsprovided the company with the tools they needed in order to freely adjust the shape of the shoes and convert their own experiences into a realized design. With Rotor Bike Components, NX was essential in providing a faster paced production cycle for the company. Rotor came to Siemens in need of a way to swiftly design their products so that they could get the production floor at a faster rate. Since the integration of the NX software into almost all of their development processes, Rotor has seen a steady increase in how many products they are able to release each year.
CAD/CAM/CAE isn’t something that one would normally connect to the world of sports and athleticism. However, solutions from Siemens PLM Software has given many the means to bring their sport into the modern area and improve the technology that enhances the equipment and helps the players reach new heights. An engineer sitting at a computer has just as much worth on these teams as an athlete would. NX is pushing sports in a new direction, expanding our understanding of what it actually takes to make the pros excel in the games they play.