Tech Briefs

Ski Binding Prototype Designed and Tested with FEA Software

Weight and strength of plastic and metal components were optimized with finite-element analysis.

G3 Genuine Guide Gear (G3) of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a specialized manufacturer of backcountry ski and safety equipment — including telemark bindings and accessories, climbing skins, and shovels and saws — designed for guides and avalanche professionals.

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Figure 1. The telemark ski binding consists of eight components, all of which required extensive design analysis
G3 uses SolidWorks for computeraided design (CAD) in conjunction with ALGOR analysis software. ALGOR linear static stress software was used to analyze all components (30 parts) of G3’s TARGA Ascent telemark ski binding. Unlike alpine skiing equipment, the skis used for telemarking — or free-heel skiing — have a binding that only connects the boot to the ski at the toes, much like in cross-country skiing. Crosscountry products are lighter and used mainly for flatter terrain with little or no downhill performance. Telemark bindings are more heavyduty to withstand the increased forces encountered in high-speed descents. They allow skiers to execute fluid turns and provide good performance for both touring and downhill skiing.

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Figure 2.Skis usedfor telemarking —or free-heel skiing — havea binding that only connects the boot to theski at the toe.
The TARGA Ascent provides a pole-activated free pivot system, easily switching the binding from tour to ski mode. In tour mode, the Ascent toe plate pivots unrestricted on a stainless steel axle, eliminating the burden of boot flex resistance for a natural feel and efficient stride. A flick of the switch easily converts the Ascent into ski mode where a stainless steel sliding retainer moves into place above a forged stainless steel retention bar, allowing outstanding downhill control.

Figure 1 illustrates the following eight components of the binding:

  1. Heel Plate and Carrier — In conjunction with the heel insert, it supports the load of the skier’s heel in both ski mode and tour mode.
  2. Lower Bearing — Acts as a bearing surface for the latch mechanism.
  3. Front Bumper — Limits the range of the free pivot.
  4. Toeplate — Retains the forefoot of the ski boot and has to support the loads transmitted to the binding by the skier.
  5. H-Body — Keeps the toeplate latched to the lower part of the binding.
  6. Baseplate — Supports the loads of a skier pulling up and landing on the part.
  7. Overcentre Link — Pulls the binding into ski mode from tour mode, locking the rear latch.
  8. Actuator — Controls how the user can switch from ski mode to tour mode by pressing the carbide tip of a ski pole against it.

To help ensure that the binding is strong, light, reliable, and functional, finite element analysis was applied to optimize the weight and strength of structural plastic and metal components, as well as elastomers for damping and spring force. This included the solving of many FEA problems, like flexible tabs calculations and spring force estimates.

Design refinement for the TARGA Ascent touring binding involved more than a year of on-snow testing with G3 engineers and guides. The G3 TARGA Ascent is now in production and available worldwide.

This work was done by Cameron Shute, P.Eng. and product development engineer for G3 Genuine Guide Gear, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, using software from ALGOR, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, click here.