Last spring I was inspired by Masterblade and his UFS specification post to design and 3D print my own Aggressive Inline Skating frame. I had been looking for a design project to keep my CAD skills in tune so why not combine two things I enjoy, design and skating.
In my mind I wanted to be able to run 63mm wheels so generated a frame layout using that as a starting point. By then constraining the inner wheel to a clearance of 1.5mm to the UFS bolts and a 9mm thick section for the UFS mounting area the frame came to an overall ride height of 72mm from the ground to the boot mounting face. I also went with a 4mm gap between the pairs of front and rear wheels setting up a 253.5mm wheel base and a split of 119.5mm between the middle wheels for the H-block.
I do wonder if ‘real’ frame designers use constraint driven parametric design like this to get a resulting frame layout, or if they just design a frame side profile and then make the design work to the UFS mounting hardware by increasing the ride height. For me it was a slow start, but being parametrically designed like this saved me time when tweaking the design, and if changes need to be made it was as simple as changing dimensions. I am after all and auto industry guy and good product design starts with good architecture.
Once I was done with the design it was time to print. A single frame took 48 hours to print on my Creality CR-10 at 30% infill using Inland PLA from Microcenter. I went with my standard infill because I wanted a decent finish but had not intended to skate it. However once I was done with one print and fitted it up to my skate, I really felt the need to run another and skate them. They seemed to be strong and stiff enough to roll around on at the very least.
So another 48 hours (wait that’s a movie, right?) and I had a pair of aggressive inline skate frames fitted to my Them 908s. What’s a boy to do now? GO ROLLERBLADING!
So I’d been back at aggressive skating on and off for a couple of years (although I’ve never stopped skating in some form over the last 4 decades). However my grind game was not there at the time, and some would argue I never had a grind game back in the day or now. That’s probably a good thing as after about 10 or 15 minutes of rolling around the driveway I took my skates off and tore them back down. The UFS frame pockets had started to crack. This does not mean that you could not make a frame to skate from 3D printed PLA or other materials. In fact, Masterblade has had some success at making robust frames with some annealing 100% infill parts after printing. Justin Thursday Fuelling is also making a lot of useable 3D printed skate parts. Check out his Salomon soul plates he is making for pro Stefan Brandow.
Where to from here. Well for me I’m not intending on starting a skate company or even making more 3D Printed frames. A rumored frame SDK kit might change my mind on printing more frames or frame parts. Beyond that I do plan to send the design, after some design for manufacture tweaks, to some companies in China to get a tooling and short run production cost. I really wonder what a prototype soft tool and a production tool for a frame would cost. Now, to Alibaba I go.