A New Zealand-based navy veteran is training for next year’s rescheduled Invictus Games with the help of a metal 3D printed pedal spacer and cleat.
Stevin Creeggan, who is due to compete in the tournament’s archery, wheelchair basketball and cycling events, has described the device as “the biggest game changer” on his Invictus Games journey.
In 2010, Creeggan was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, New Zealand, which left him with multiple injuries including self-fused vertebrae in his neck and lower back, and severe damage to his right leg. Creeggan’s leg has been reconstructed with plates, screws, and rods, and is now 2.5cm shorter than his left leg.
After finding it difficult to maintain his fitness, Creeggan signed up for the Invictus Games, which were scheduled to take place back in May but due to COVID-19 are now expected to take place next year. When he began training, he created a spacer to fill the gap between his foot and bike pedal using bog, a strong, heavy duty filler material which is typically used to fill dents in a car, but it was extremely heavy, weighing in at 250 grams alongside the shoe cleat.
Invictus sports team manager, David Pilgrim decided to seek out a better, more optimised alternative. He took it to a team of engineers at the New Zealand Defence Force, more used to designing military vehicle parts and tentage, to come up with a lighter and more resilient solution, tailored to Creeggan’s shoe.
The team started by printing prototypes in carbon fibre to perfect the design before moving to metal 3D printing in titanium on a GE Additive Arcam Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Q10plus machine with Auckland-based manufacturer Zenith Tecnica, to produce the final 50g titanium part.
Creeggan commented: “The design team found that sweet spot in the middle of being light, functional and strong. My right leg is now ergonomically correct so it is now at the point where I can stand up to pedal and I have trust in my leg and my bike to push harder than I have been able to before. I am now doing 23 kilometres in 30 minutes in the track criterium, up from 18 kilometres.”