As part of the signature course of the Advanced Prototyping minor, IDE student David van Nunen, member of the national fencing team, developed a personalised épée handle. The handle he created is easier to hold and more attractive.
The assignment was to make a prototype for a personal project. Van Nunen took a standard épée handle, known as the pistol grip, and adapted it using clay. “I used my phone to photograph the result from all angles. I entered the photographs into a computer program that created a rotating 3D model of it on the screen. I toyed with that until I had a new model and used another program to fine-tune it and eradicate any shortcomings. I then made a 3D print of the new model in PLA (Polylactic Acid) and tested it in training.”
Based on the resulting analyses, he created a new improved prototype. Twelve prototypes later, theminor is over, but Van Nunen is continuing to test and develop the latest models. His aim is to soon startcompeting with the perfect grip he has designed himself. “There are a wide range of grips available on the market, all with advantages and disadvantages. I am trying to combine all of the advantages in a single ideal grip designed to suit me. It might seem logical to base the design on parameters such as your finger length, but that is an idealistic approach. It does not work like that. There is also the factor of your specific fencing style and how you hold onto the grip.”
He has made adaptations that have never been done before. “I have made the grip into more of a single unit and matched it to the hand more effectively to achieve a better hold. Although these may seem trivial details, they really make a difference. I have also made the grip more aesthetically appealing and it now looks more dynamic and modern.”
He has no fears that his adapted grips will lead to accusations of mechanical doping: “I based my design on the regulations of the International Fencing Federation. It offers greater ergonomics and more comfort, but it will make only a very minor difference in terms of the fencing itself.”