CLIENT - Great Britain's leading tennis charity
EXPERTISE - VALIDATION & RESEARCH
When wheelchair tennis players travel abroad to compete it is not as simple as travelling with your bag full of rackets in the hold and turning up on court. Furthermore, if your rackets do get damaged, you can probably find another racket to play with. In wheelchair tennis, there is another, far more important, piece of equipment that travels wherever the players go: the chair.
The chair is the most important piece of equipment for a player. At the top end they are all bespoke, designed to fit the player and to maximise their mobility with an ergonomic, lightweight design. As it is the most important piece of equipment, the consequences for a chair getting damaged can sometimes require puling out from a tournament, which is something that cannot be afforded: there are valuable ranking points and prize money on the line. Often the answer has been to find a welder near the tournament so that, if a chair does get damaged in transit, it can be fixed.
The Tennis Foundation identified a hard case as a method of protecting the chair in transit so looked to design and develop wheelchair travel cases for their athletes. The time frame was very short and the ultimate goal was to deliver a case, at the bare minimum, that could hold all the wheelchairs that were being taken to the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016, of which there were 13. Each chair is unique to the player and, as a result, has its own dimensions, but each case has to be the same size.
Each chair had been measured using a rig. The quality of these measurements was in question though, so each needed to be validated according to visual imagery and by taking measurements on the one chair Progressive had access to.
By taking approximate measurements from the pictures of the chairs and comparing the data taken for the chair we had, a point based 3D model of each chair was developed, along with tolerances for each measurement.
Bringing each chair model into one assembly file, along with tolerances, allowed the internal geometry for the case to be developed, a split line for the case identified and a thickness for the case defined. The aim was to develop a lightweight case so each was made from a carbon fibre composite to reduce weight. Progressive partnered with EPM technologies to manufacture the cases, the first of which was prototyped to identify minor amendments that needed to be made to the tooling. This was sent on a pilot test journey and completed it undamaged apart from superficial scratches.
Each of the final design cases were delivered to the Tennis Foundation on time and all of the cases got to and from Rio safely.
"Without Progressive’s ability to turn a project around quickly and effectively we would have really struggled with delivering a case for the wheelchair players in Rio. This would have meant risking players potentially being unable to compete in the Olympic Games because they didn’t have a chair to play their tennis in. Progressive provided a sound understanding of design parameters to deliver us all the cases we needed to get the chairs safely to and from tournaments.
Performance Support Manager