A trailblazing exploration of how metal 3D printing can be used to help revolutionize tool-making for Iowa manufacturers
also has started to pay off in the form of cheerleaders with better balance.
American Athletic Inc., a Jefferson, Iowa-based sports equipment manufacturer, launched a new product in December
--- the culmination of many months of work with Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), as well as the Iowa State cheerleading squad.
||A demonstration with the cheer stand by Lauren Nachman, senior in elementary education and member of the cheer squad.
"We're still using it," head cheerleading coach Kelli Baker said of the new Elite Cheer Stand. "The kids like it."
American Athletic describes its cheer stand as a safer, closer-to-the-floor way for cheerleaders to learn the kind of balance necessary for standing on someone's hands. The device, which is being marketed both to high school and college cheer squads, was made from plastic parts produced by Ottumwa-based Angstrom Precision Molding out of molds built by CIRAS' metal 3D printer. The printer uses powdered metal and a laser to build complicated projects, one 40-micron-thick layer at a time.
The Elite Cheer Stand is one of dozens of projects CIRAS is using to show companies how additive manufacturing (the technical term for 3D printing) can be used to rewrite design limitations and open up new possibilities for their businesses. CIRAS has spent the last year exploring ways to use the technology to quickly and cheaply produce the items necessary to bring a product to market.
"It's early," said Jim Johnson, chief operating officer at Angstrom. "This is the first mold like this we've completed. We'll know more from design to design and part to part than we do now. But it looks very promising."
Senad Salkic, senior design engineer at American Athletic, said CIRAS "helped us have a clear vision of the product and made the whole process very smooth." The company plans to heavily promote the Elite Cheer Stand at cheer shows throughout 2017, and officials are confident it will quickly become one of the most popular training aids in the country.