/ 3D Printed Ice Axe (Pleas Help)

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ehorwich 22 Feb 2019

Hi, 

I was wondering if anyone here can help me out. I am currently studying for my masters in Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing. For one of my projects, I have chosen to optimise the design of a Ice Axe, to make it as lightweight as possible whilst not sacrificing safety.

Here is where I need your help.

1) I don't own an Ice Axe and was wondering if someone could possibly measure theirs up for me (height, width, thickness, model name)

2) Please could you tell me what is the maximum weight rating for an axe. For example if the blade was fixed into a wall, how much direct pulling force on the shaft would cause the axe to fail.

3) Would an axe with a total weight of around 300g - 400g be attractive to any climbers?

I would be grateful for any assistance.

Thanks

Ellis  

1
yodadave 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

here's a starter for you

https://weighmyrack.com/iceaxe

Stefan Jacobsen 22 Feb 2019
TobyA 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

I don't mean to be rude, but can't you just look all that up? There are UIAA ratings that different types of ice tool need to reach - I'm sure its all just a few clicks through Google away.

There are some very specialist carbon fibre based ice tools available from at least one firm that are at the weight level you mention - it might have even been in one of UKC's blog from ISPO that it showed them. Someone else should remember the company's name.

2
DaveHK 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

To get useful answers to your questions you're going to have to narrow down the type of ice axe and intended usage.

Depending on the usage there are already axes out there well under the weight you mention and for other uses lower weight is not necessarily an advantage.

Post edited at 15:26
ehorwich 22 Feb 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Thanks for the reply. its going to be intended for technical mountaineering

ehorwich 22 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I had no idea what the UIAA ratings were until you posted it. Thanks

DaveHK 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

> Thanks for the reply. its going to be intended for technical mountaineering

The sort of terrain where you'd use one axe or 2?

ehorwich 22 Feb 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

2 axes

jkarran 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

Perhaps additive manufacturing is a broader term that I'm aware but it seems a very ambitious target given how highly stressed and subject to abuse (impact/bending/twisting) climbing axes are. What type(s) of material(s) and deposition/consolidation process do you envisage? I presume you mean for the shaft/handle only.

jk

ogreville 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

> I have chosen to optimise the design of a Ice Axe, to make it as lightweight as possible whilst not sacrificing safety.

I'd prob look at retaining functionality first, rather than safety.

> Would an axe with a total weight of around 300g - 400g be attractive to any climbers?

Probably not for technical, graded climbing. My breadth of knowledge is narrow in this area, but I think the reason that top end axes like the Petzl nomic etc are 600g - 700g plus is because they need to be weighty, for swing and durability. Once you get to a certain tipping point of lightweight/slim-line, then the axes will only be suitable for self arrest or basic scrambling/pulling on easy stuff. I suppose the question you need to ask first is.....

"What lower weight limit can be reached before the axe isn't suitable for serious winter climbing?".

I'm sure that pro kit manufacturers have being working on this question for a long time. If you look at what's across the whole range of available axes then you'll prob be able to identify where that weight tipping point is -  The transition from Technical tools to walking axes. I'd imagine that the tipping point currently sits where it sits for a reason though.

Post edited at 16:33
ehorwich 22 Feb 2019
In reply to jkarran:

We are using Selective Laser Melting and the material is Aulminium (ALSi10Mg), and yeh handle only

Post edited at 16:56
itsThere 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

What do you get marked on, the 3d printing or the optimisation?

jkarran 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

Interesting, thanks. Does it require heat treatment after printing to reach its full potential? I suppose this allows wall thickness to be carefully tailored for even stress distribution under expected loads and with internal honeycomb/structure perhaps dropped on average over a simpler formed tube in the same alloy.

Jk

toad 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

Bloody hell! A student project that isn't an intefminable questionaire about risk perception. Can't help, but well done and good luck

petwes 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

It's been many a year since I've swung an axe in anger but as a general question is there an optimum weight? I assume minimising shaft weight would be an advantage but if the mass of the business end is reduced too much would it fail to do its job?

Could you bang in a nail with a hammer that has no mass?

captain paranoia 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

> For example if the blade was fixed into a wall, how much direct pulling force on the shaft would cause the axe to fail.

Does the course address the mechanical design of such parts (which would address such loading analysis)?

Or is it a course purely aimed at realising a design a mechanical engineer gives you, with no analysis of the strength of the design you manufacture?

Stefan Jacobsen 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

Don’t mention it. 

Dave Cundy 22 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

In my last job at RR, one of the guys was specialising in additive manufacturing, so we all got to learn a bit.

Decide what loads you want to withstand (in many directions and places) and the deflections you are willing to tolerate.  That will show you whether the differnt parts of the structure need to be designed for strength or stiffness. This will affect the optimisation.

Think about the other mechanical properties, e.g. weight and thermal conductivity.  If the structure weighed almost nothing, might you have to add weight to give it the right feel?  Where would that weight need to be added.  Aluminium is a very good conductor, so you might not want the handle to be too massive, otherwise it might suck heat from your hands.

Don't spend all you time gathering requirements.  The optimisation will throw up just as many questions, so don't get sucked down lots of rabbit holes on the way.

Good luck.  ALM is a wonder tool, you've just got to figure out where it's most beneficial.

Marek 23 Feb 2019
In reply to Dave Cundy:

> Good luck.  ALM is a wonder tool, you've just got to figure out where it's most beneficial.

You've made a bit of a 'enthusiastic engineer's assumption': There should be an 'if' in that sentence.

Mr Messy 23 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

I would like the upper hand rest on my rebels redesigning and making. Would this be of interest?  

ehorwich 23 Feb 2019
In reply to itsThere:

Optimisation and viability 

ehorwich 23 Feb 2019
In reply to jkarran:

yeh, it has to be heat treated to reduce high residual stresses created when being printed. 

ehorwich 23 Feb 2019
In reply to captain paranoia:

its all about the analysing phase and optimisation

ehorwich 23 Feb 2019

> I would like the upper hand rest on my rebels redesigning and making. Would this be of interest?  

In reply to Mr Messy:

absolutely. any more info on what could be improved would be great to hear

Dave Cundy 24 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

And that's actually one of the few disadvantages of ALM.  Because you're only melting the powder/structure bit by bit, you end up with redidual stresses and properties akin to casting (i.e. relatively low strength relative to a forged or rolled billet).

I seem to recall our expert saying that the technique really starts to deliver when you have 1) complex loads paths, 2) structures designed for stiffness (avoids the cast properties issue) and 3) several separate parts which can now be integrated into a single part.

None of which may help the OP directly but is all part of his education ;-)

Oh, and put a high strength clip point near the spike - see the thread on (Nomic?) design fault.

ehorwich 24 Feb 2019
In reply to Dave Cundy:

> And that's actually one of the few disadvantages of ALM.  Because you're only melting the powder/structure bit by bit, you end up with redidual stresses and properties akin to casting (i.e. relatively low strength relative to a forged or rolled billet).

> I seem to recall our expert saying that the technique really starts to deliver when you have 1) complex loads paths, 2) structures designed for stiffness (avoids the cast properties issue) and 3) several separate parts which can now be integrated into a single part.

> None of which may help the OP directly but is all part of his education ;-)

> Oh, and put a high strength clip point near the spike - see the thread on (Nomic?) design fault.

Thanks, could you point me in the direction of that thread

2
itsThere 24 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

So I assume this isnt a final year project, do you have time to do a whole ice axe? Maybe scale it back a little and look into the optimisation of the I-beam on a carrabiner. You could compare simulated results vs actual to prove the optimisation was correct.

This could save a ton of cash if you dont need to tool up to validate a design with real world data (sometimes simulation isnt enough vs risk/cost in tooling up).

https://dmmclimbing.com/Knowledge/January-2013/DMM-factory-tour

I would talk it though with your advisor/course coordinator so you have enough work for the project but not too much, so you know when to stop and write it all up.

Sans-Plan 24 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

3D print a copy of the DMM Rebels and you will make yourself a fortune on eBay with the Tomb Raider fans ;-)

Dave Cundy 24 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

It's a very recent thread entitled 'Nomic design error'.  It's about whether tools should be strong enough to be used only in the manner suggested by the manufacturet manufacturer, or in ways which seems sensible to users.

trouserburp 24 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

If this is all about reducing weight you might make a specialist dry-tooling axe - no whacking required so I would think the lighter the better

planetmarshall 25 Feb 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

> If this is all about reducing weight you might make a specialist dry-tooling axe - no whacking required so I would think the lighter the better

A dry tooling axe would require very much higher tolerances than one just used for ice, as it would have to take the stresses produced by torques, stein pulls etc.

However,  on a related note, ice tools for Speed competition are a very specialist niche product. If you could come up with a DIY fabrication method for such things, it might be quite popular.

Eg. http://icerockequipment.com/en/catalog/rocky-ice/ledovyij-instrument-pteryx

Post edited at 00:39
1
jkarran 25 Feb 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

> However,  on a related note, ice tools for Speed competition are a very specialist niche product. If you could come up with a DIY fabrication method for such things, it might be quite popular. Eg. http://icerockequipment.com/en/catalog/rocky-ice/ledovyij-instrument-pteryx

That looks like it's milled/routered out of a simple sheet material, about as DIYable as it gets.

jk

AC93 25 Feb 2019
In reply to ehorwich:

Just some more points to think about:

- Look into topology optimisation (SolidThinking) and internal latticing. In order to make this viable, you need to really exploit the technology and create a shape that can't be manufactured with any other process. Also reducing the supports / creating a self supporting design helps production massively.

- Print direction will drastically affect the cost. You will need to print this with the shaft running in Z to try and keep distortion low. Height is a huge cost multiplier in AM. 

- AlSi10Mg is a lot weaker than Ti64. You'll want a nice stiff material for an axe.

Good luck with it all!

Toerag 25 Feb 2019
In reply to ogreville:

>I suppose the question you need to ask first is.....

> "What lower weight limit can be reached before the axe isn't suitable for serious winter climbing?".

The potential game changer here isn't necessarily 'how light can they be made', but 'where can the weight be concentrated'.  If axes are already at the current ideal overall weight but the weight of the handle can be reduced by 30%, that allows the weight of the head to be increased thus improving hammering power.

Post edited at 14:51

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