3D Printed Jig Gets Tested in the Waves

Article by Dan Gamsby updated September 28, 2016


Most of you do not know this, but in my previous career I was a professional windsurfer. I competed for Team Canada and represented Canada at many international events around the world. I have taken some time away from the sport since retiring in 2012, as I needed a mental break after running around the world for 6 straight years! This summer, however, I was bitten by the windsurfing bug again – and I am loving it!

The Problem

So, what does 3D printing and have to do with the re-kindling of my love for windsurfing? Well, on my first day out windsurfing this summer I dusted off my gear and rigged up for what was going to be an epic day on the water. Sure enough, I put my gear together and a critical piece broke at the top of the mast that holds the mast in the correct position in the sail. There I was, standing on the shore watching the wind howl and I couldn’t do anything but drool at the perfect conditions in Grand Bend, Ontario. I was not going to let this happen again!

The 3D Printed Solution

I searched for the part online and discovered that the part was going to take a week or more to arrive on my doorstep from overseas. The wind was going to blow again the coming weekend and I couldn’t miss another chance to get back on my board. Luckily, I had direct access the world’s best tool for this kind of situation. I turned to the Stratasys Fortus 250 3D printer in Javelin’s Oakville 3D print lab and began to design a new mast cap from scratch in SOLIDWORKS. Thanks to the skills I learned in Javelin’s SOLIDWORKS Advanced Part Modeling course and Advanced Insight course I was able to easily design and customize the mast component to the exact specifications that I needed. In the Advanced Insight course, I learned to account for the printer’s nozzle diameter when designing my part, so the first print would be perfect every time.

3D printed part

Screen capture of the mast cap with locating cutout

Stratasys Fortus 250 Features

The benefit of having access to a Stratasys Fortus 250 is hidden in the Insight software that drives the builds. This software allows you to customize your parts so you can reinforce components where strength is critical and honeycomb areas that will be under less stress. Although this part is small and may not seem like it would be crucial to hit the water, it has to withstand over 600 lbs of force when the sail is fully tensioned, all while containing less than 2 cubic inches of material (roughly $10). This mast cap needs to be small, detailed, as well as very strong.

Thankfully the Stratasys Fortus machines thrive in applications where highly detailed, accurate, and incredibly strong parts are required. Our customers commonly use Fortus 3D printers for these exact requirements, regardless of the industry. The Fortus machines build strong, light weight, and dimensionally accurate parts every single time. I strongly recommend taking our Insight course to make sure you are getting all of the benefits from your Fortus machine.

3D printed part

Mast cap designed in 10 minutes and printed in a few hours

Javelin’s Solutions

Thanks to the overall solutions Javelin’s portfolio has to offer, I had the skills to design the part in less than 10 minutes, the knowledge of how to build the part with customized tool paths in Insight, and the Fortus 250 3D printer to manufacture the mast cap. What about the fruits of my 20 minutes of labour? Check out the windsurfing session I scored the Friday night after printing this mast cap! Without 3D printing in house I would have been sitting on the beach rather than having one of the rides of my life.

3D printed part

Out on the waves! Photo by The Common Creative

Want to learn more?

Think your company can benefit from the flexibility and instantaneous customizability that in-house 3D printing has to offer? Reach out to Javelin to identify applications for 3D printing in your company!

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Dan Gamsby

Dan Gamsbys is currently Executive Producer of Javelin Reality, with 14 years experience in the CAD software industry. Dan's experience ranges from products with Autodesk (AutoCAD, Inventor, etc) to products with SolidWorks. Dan has extensive experience in the IT field, and is an avid sports, and computer hobbiest.