Former British Soldier Helps Test The Future Of Adaptive Snowboarding

The World's First 3D Printed Bindings - Credit: Centre for Modelling & Simulation
Darren Swift, a former British Army soldier who lost both legs in a bomb explosion in Northern Ireland, is helping pave the way into the future of adaptive riding for double above the knee (DAK) amputees.

Swift's story starts in 1991 when he lost both legs in an IED explosion during a tour of duty in Northern Ireland. It was after this that Swift turned to winter sports, beginning with sit-skiing for 10 years, but later switched to snowboarding.

Looking to compete in national and world events, Swift became a para-athlete but was not able to compete at the level he wanted.

“For 5 years I’ve been competing on heavy bindings put together in a friend’s kitchen. They gave me permanent back pain and meant I was too slow to qualify for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. I wanted to create something that could open doors for me and other DAKs competitors. With CFMS’s help, we’ve developed something revolutionary and now we’re calling on the IPC to help DAKs compete equally," Swift said.

The lead to Swift partnering with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) to create the new set of bindings. CFMS has developed and tested the bindings using a series of 3D modeling, additive manufacturing, and complex high-value design techniques. More than 500 digital engineering hours have been dedicated to the development of the prototype bindings, which have been 3D-printed using a super-strong material made from nylon and fiberglass. These bindings are the first to be able to absorb shock, making for a better ride and more control for the rider, as well as limiting the physical stress DAK riders would normally have to endure.

Davide Bianchi, Head of Advanced Simulation at CFMS who led the project, commented: “When Darren first approached us with the idea for the bindings, we jumped at the chance to get involved. As experienced aerospace engineers, we knew we had the skills to design exactly what he needed. We’ve really pushed the limits of engineering to create the world’s first 3D-printed snowboard bindings so we’re really proud to see Darren on the slopes using this revolutionary new technology!”

Swift successfully tested the bindings for the first time on Tuesday, September 3, at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. He will now begin training for the 2022 Paralympic Games in China.


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