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Record-breaking cycling skinsuits in 3D with Artec

Record-breaking cycling skinsuits in 3D with Artec

April 20, 2020 in Case study

Cycling suits developed with Artec’s 3D technology

In the world of high-performance cycling, speed is everything. A cyclist can use up to 90% of his physical effort to overcome air resistance, so reducing it is essential to gain valuable time and increase the cyclist’s speed.

Rather than focusing on the bike, it makes more sense to focus on the cyclist in a broad sense: on biomechanics in the various riding positions, on training, but above all on technical clothing. To meet these needs, Vorteq has chosen Artec 3D to develop the fastest cycling skinsuits in the world.

The importance of cycling skinsuits

The suit is the most aerodynamic garment a cyclist can wear. But not only that; this essential garment could reduce the level of friction, and take it to levels even lower than if the athlete were naked.

A professional cycling suit must reflect other important features: comfort, lightness, high breathability. The customization of the skinsuit is a key factor. If a suit is not custom-tailored, it will not adhere perfectly to the athlete and show wrinkles. And wrinkles or creases in fabric are the worst enemies of aerodynamics, because they increase air resistance. And this means loosing speed.

Seams and fabric types can drastically alter the final result of the suit. That’s why choosing optimal materials plays a key role.

Creating a suit that takes into account the rider’s size and body shape remains essential. Anatomy varies from body to body and a fit with such a high level of customization cannot be found in any shop.

Using Artec Leo to create customized cycling suits

A 3D scanner was the answer on how to produce high performance cycling suits.

Artec Leo by Artec 3D was the final choice, perfect for digitally capturing the athlete’s exact anatomy.

So Vorteq engineers turned to Artec Central Scanning, specialists in all aspects of 3D scanning. Central Scanning’s experts recommended Artec Leo, a revolutionary handheld 3D scanner with built-in touchscreen and data acquisition speeds of up to 80 fps. In addition to being completely wireless, Leo excels at capturing medium-sized objects like people in minutes.

TotalSim, Vorteq’s parent company, used to use another manufacturer’s arm scanner to scan racing cars, bicycles, and other objects, but this device was not suitable for scanning people. That’s why Artec Leo chose the scanner.

tute da ciclismo
The 3D scanning workflow

Once they received the new Artec Leo, Vorteq’s engineers created a digital acquisition workflow:

The cyclist enters the specially designed wind tunnel, where the bike is mounted on a platform and in just 6 minutes, Artec Leo “captures” the athlete, from two positions in 3D, color and high precision/resolution. It takes just one more minute to capture the shoes from all sides and to complete the anatomical scan.

“In ten minutes I can finish the work on a cyclist and go on with my job. I have everything I need to design an anatomically accurate Vorteq suit, fast as a bullet. No second scan is needed,” says Sam Quilter, metrology engineer.

The athlete is scanned with Artec Leo, and once the 3D scans are done, they go to Artec Studio to process them. We then use 3D Systems’ Geomagic Wrap for 3D modeling. As a final step, we export the 3D model to make the cycling suit. From the beginning of the process to the end, it takes about 2 hours: “Impossible in the past, we weren’t even close to that kind of timing,” continues Sam Quilter.

“We need 2 days to deliver the cycling suit at the moment, but our goal is to be able to deliver the suits within 24 hours,” Quilter concludes.

The advantages of Artec Leo

“When we make cycling suits, we only consider the 3D scans made with Leo, which are exact data and not the measurements taken manually. You don’t lose anything in the process, you don’t have to re-enter the measurements taken manually in the CAD system or in a computerized drapery system. Even a small crease could compromise the success of the cycling suit, making our work useless.

In addition, Artec Leo is completely wireless and has a super fast but at the same time accurate data acquisition system.

A facilitated post-processing phase

The post-processing flow in Artec Studio is also simplified. Quilter, engineer, adds: “Leo really simplifies things for us. You don’t need many steps in Artec Studio. I review the collected data, check everything one more time, then use the Eraser tool to remove any unwanted pieces. Usually I keep the bike in the scan, as it is a great reference point for the XYZ positioning and angulation, then I go into global recording, where I use the default settings because they work perfectly. Normally I don’t need to run an Outlier Removal, because the data is already quite clean. So I run Smooth Fusion and, after a few more small changes, I export it as an STL file to use in Geomagic Wrap.

Quilter explains that “in Geomagic Wrap the Decimate tool is used to further decrease the number of triangles, and if I want to get rid of any wrinkles, which should not be there in the scan, I switch to the Smooth command, which allows me to remove any imperfections, because sometimes athletes move their fingers during the scan. Once finished, we export it as an OBJ file to use in our draping software”.

Not just cycling suits

What if the athlete is miles away, or on the other side of the globe?

Vorteq thought of that too. Creating mannequins that exactly reproduce athletes, thanks to Artec Leo, of course. These mannequins will be used to create cycling suits without the athletes having to go to Vorteq offices.

Test, scan, model, create (even remotely), to be always available for their customers.

Read more about the products by Artec 3D here
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