NOW, an innovative Swiss snowboarding products company (part of the Nidecker Group), and Addit-ion, a Barcelona-based studio of Artificial Intelligence design specialists, have unveiled the first-ever 3D-printed A.I. BINDING, entirely designed by Artificial Intelligence. Part of Nidecker Group, NOW is a rider-owned company, with the goal of improving snowboarding through creating innovative, relevant technologies for snowboarders.
To create a responsive binding, optimized for turning, NOW wanted to deliver maximum stiffness with the lowest possible mass. To make that happen, Addit-ion leveraged AI design and multijet fusion polymer powder bed 3D printing technology by HP. NOW contributed with their patented Skate Tech technology and the motherhouse Nidecker Group brought their extended knowledge of binding technology.
Together, the companies built a Load Case that would emulate the stress that bindings undergo during aggressive carving and turning, then used a minimal mechanical representation of Skate Tech to generate the ultimate shape around it, using Autodesk generative design software. This resulted in dozens of different outcomes to compare, with different materials and technologies. Finally, the teams decided that HP’s basic PA12 material would suffice for the concept model.
“This concept binding is the starting point towards the new paradigm of sports gear, where optimization algorithms and mass customization will grant unique and tailor-fit products for every specific need”, said Saulo Armas, Co-funder of Addit-ion.
“The result is the A.I. BINDING, the first-ever snowboard binding created by an Artificial Intelligence which – thanks to its design – is 25% lighter than current bindings.“ said Daniel Schmäh, R&D Director – Snowboard Bindings at Nidecker
However, choosing 3D printing as the manufacturing method for the product wasn’t a trivial decision. “With powder-based printing technologies, you don’t need any support material, and you can print almost any desired shape,” explained Said Oriol Massanes, artificial intelligence expert at Addit-ion “This gave the algorithm absolute freedom to think out the best outcome without any manufacturing constraints.”
3D printing also opened the door to re-design other parts of the binding, and most importantly opens the possibility of complete customization. “To see the result of this knowledge exchange is simply incredible!” said JF Pelchat, founder of NOW bindings.