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Shivani Patel
Shivani Patel
Shivani Patel has her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and has six years of CAD experience. She has been with GoEngineer for over 2 years working as an expert-level SOLIDWORKS and Simulation instructor and is a certified expert in SOLIDWORKS, and its FEA, CFD, and Injection Molding packages.

Olympic Weightlifting Gets Drop Tested with SOLIDWORKS Simulation

August 15th, 2016 by Shivani Patel

Ever wonder why rubber weights are used in Olympic weightlifting, but iron plates in most gyms?

We did. So, we looked into it.

The World’s greatest athletes demonstrate what it means to push the boundaries of human potential at each Olympic Games. In Olympic weightlifting, for example, new records are being set every year. Much is said about the athletes and how they challenge their limits to achieve new heights, but what about the equipment?

Weightlifting Equipment

  • Has it always been the same?
  • What kind of stress occurs when the bar is dropped?
  • How could pushing the boundaries of design enable athletes to achieve more?

At GoEngineer, these are the kinds of questions that keep us up at night.

Here’s what we found;  changing the material of the weights, changed the sport of weightlifting.

See our Simulation FEA Drop Test

Weightlifting has been an Olympic event since the very first Olympics in Athens in 1896. Back then, the bar and the plates were made out of iron. The rules required athletes to gently return the weights to the ground. This obviously wasn’t possible when an athlete was going for a max effort lift, and would miss.

Drop Test with SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Drop test studies evaluate the effect of the impact of a part or an assembly with a rigid or flexible planar surface. Dropping an object on the floor is a typical application, and that’s where this study type gets its name.

In this case, we dropped the barbell from 8 feet above the ground, striking it at a 3 degree angle. The variation in bounce height after collision with the ground between plates made fully of metal, and plates with a coating of hard rubber, can be seen.

The virtual stress study in SOLIDWORKS Simulation shows there is no energy lost with the iron plates.

Pushing Boundaries

In the late 60’s, rubber weights were introduced. By doing another stress study, we can see that rubber plates absorb much more kinetic energy.

This allowed lifters to drop the weights, thus empowering them to chase heavier numbers and set new records.

Engineering Game Changer

Similarly, being able to do stress tests on multiple materials on the fly can change the game of engineering and design. SOLIDWORKS Simulation enables engineers to make changes and improvements quickly, and accurately. This ultimately changes the way we live on a daily basis.

While you watch in awe all the amazing things the Olympics athletes are doing, as we do, know that there’s likely an engineer behind the scenes somewhere that designed the equipment they’re using.

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Categories: SOLIDWORKS, SOLIDWORKS Simulation

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