#2060: VaultFreight

Polevaulters have great difficulty in transporting their poles around the globe.

Airlines don’t like having to take bundles of ten or so at a time into the holds of their aircraft (and they don’t tend to fit in overhead lockers).

Today’s invention is a way to get around this problem.

Instead of carting these devices around, athletes would only have to carry two additional suitcase-sizes containers.

One of these would contain a desktop 3-D printer with a motorised bobbin feeder and the other the various goop and fibres needed to make a pole or two.

Traditional poles consist of glass fibre and kevlar composites wound around a long metal mandrel and baked in a huge oven.

Achieving the required properties using a fabricator would be a trial and error process months in advance and far from the competition itself. Once the recipe had been perfected, this could be carried as a secret program on a thumbdrive.

I’d suggest using a 1m metal mandrel and winding kevlar fibres into a printed matrix on top of this…matrix, fibre, matrix etc.

Each new stretch of pole could be automatically fed slowly along the mandrel and through a small oven so that the whole system would maintain strength. This would also allow pre-bending to be built in, as well as experimenting with highly variable material properties from point to point (I’d be keen to try incorporating a section with enhanced axial springiness for a bit of extra lift in the final phase of the vault).

This approach would work well for exponents of the javelin who have similar transport difficulties.