ALAser is a project by Andrea Giovenzana and its a rigid sail divided into 4 self-supporting panels. To be able to use it, Andrea, who already experienced additive manufacturing solution for his projects, used a Sharebot 3D printer. Let’s see his story.


Technology and sports

“Everything started with a conversation with a friend after a good sailing: the idea was to innovate sailing by experimenting new sails, like the Laser ones (which has a rigid sail). It was a crazy idea, we knew that, but we wanted to succeed and we wanted to have fun! We worked a lot on that “crazy idea”, we changed our mind many times, experimenting different solutions but in the end, we finally came to a result. Few weeks ago we put our new ship “AGone” in the water fostered by a soft morning wind: “AGone” was just the 1.0 version of the final “ALAser” prototype, but is has already its main feature: four self-supporting panels.

When you have to test something you don’t know, you have no ambition: you’re not looking for any record, you just want to try it because you’re just looking to test if you were right about all your theories. Incredible! All our theories about lasers and our idea were completely right! After few hard moments, ALAser gave us great results, beyond any expectations: while the wind strengthened, the ship improved its performances. We couldn’t achieve the results reached by a common radial laser but it wasn’t our goal. Designers and builders were very satisfied. It was just the first experiment and now we’re already working on the the 2.0 version using the data recorded. One of the most promising data is about the materials resistance, perfect for sailing.


Additive manufacturing and 3D printing: how to use these them?

3D printing made the difference. Using additive manufacturing tools allowed us to limit costs and be completely free during the design steps: 3D printing gave us the possibility to realize every shape we wanted. We used a Sharebot NG to realize all the panels supporting tools, connectors and all the components required to correctly link the panels.

Few important features required to succeed were: the mast should be able to be used as a support for the entire sail; the connectors (drawn at different highs) should allow to link the ribs to the mast so that they could rotate without losing stiffness, An important and very technical issue concerned the tube-shaped structure of the supports because they must allow to reach the right shell angle during sailing and also the sail warpage. Because of all these issues, one of the main topics was about materials: after many tests, we used ABS, which had the better reaction with water.


What the skippers sad

Maurizio, an expert sailor, told me: “I’m very surprised, the results is far beyond expectations. The sail reacted very well when the wind speed was over 10 knots. I had few problems with the stability during bow turns, while the feared jibes can be done by everyone (even a beginner!) with this sail. It was really a pleasure to ride this boat!”

“The tests made with a 10 knots wind showed a good rigidity and resistance at the same time: our calculations were good and our laboratory experiments with different materials were good as well as we avoided the buckling effect on every panel. Talking about the aerodynamic: we knew the CV placement could give us few problems as it did us during the field tests (once again: our CFD calculation were good). We were surprised by the tip warpage and we’ll use the same system on the 2.0 version” Davide said.


Technical details

  • 4m high rigid sail composed by 4 auto-regolating and independent panels
  • Each panel size is 1000 x 1115 mm (height and length)
  • Each panel weight: 1720g
  • Profile NACA08
  • Each panel is composed by 3 polystirene ribs with a tubolar shell
  • The first panel lover rib was laminate with fiber
  • Covering with two layers of polypropylene
  • Precision hooking system made in ABS and 3D printed with Sharebot NG
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