NCC and Manufacturing Technology Centre Help GB Paracanoeist Secure Gold at Tokyo Games

October 11 2021

Paralympic paracanoe champion Emma Wiggs MBE has added to her gold medal haul, with the help of experts from the National Composites Centre (NCC) and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
In a world first, a team of expert engineers came together, with Emma, to use the latest manufacturing technologies to design and produce the perfect paddle to help propel the nine-time world champion to victory in the new VL2 event, winning her second successive Paralympic gold medal in a record time of 57.028 seconds at Tokyo 2020.
With agreement from British Canoeing, the MTC kick started the project, including teaming up with composites specialists at the NCC to begin the challenge of designing and manufacturing a new, bespoke paddle for Emma to enable her to generate more strength and power based on the materials of her existing paddle but looking at a new handle design.
The engineers worked with Emma and her coaches at British Canoeing to capture the current equipment dimensions and properties, as well as Emma’s ergonomics and individual technique to generate speed and power through the water. The team developed a fluid simulation model using a digital twin of the old paddle to inform the new design of the carbon fiber paddle developed with the NCC.
The NCC focused on upgrading the carbon fiber body of the paddle, conducting a full review of the existing one used by Emma and digitally simulating it to test if the lay-up materials and design concept chosen would withstand the forces applied in the water.
Various options of the paddle handle customized to Emma’s hands were designed using lightweight lattice structures and 3D scanning technology. The handles were then manufactured using high-performance polymer 3D printing in the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing based at the MTC, in partnership with Carbon, the technology manufacturer and member of the MTC.
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