To stop skiers inadvertently hastening their own demise, a device was developed by Werner Greipl
to set off avalanches on a controlled basis.
The 1387-part device, Avalanche Blast
, was developed using Alibre Design
, the fastest growing 3D parametric solid modelling software currently available.
provided the right tools at the right price to bring a great idea into commercial reality.
Greipl, a helicopter engineer, pilot and alpine rescue instructor based out of Ottobrunn, Germany, learned the 3D CAD software at the same time as he was developing his ideas and sketching out the initial parts for Avalanche Blast.
"I got the free trial version and then did the whole job in two weeks," says Greipl
approach is quite straightforward.
It didn't take me long to get used to it."
got the inspiration for Avalanche Blast
through conversations with pilot colleagues Gabriel and Marco Kostner, from the Italian helicopter firm EliKos, back in 2003.
and the Kostners had previously relied on conventional explosives when flying avalanche management missions.
"As we were throwing dynamite out of the helicopter's side door it was always a little touchy!", explains Greipl
"Having 50 kilograms of dynamite or more in the cabin and some guy sitting in the back with a lighter or some matches - it always made me feel a little nervous.
How's that for understatement?
decided to use Alibre Design
to hone his
idea for a device that could induce snow blasts without the hazards of storing and transporting conventional explosives.
looked around for affordable software that was powerful enough to make the movable mechanisms that allow oxygen and hydrogen canisters to be changed quickly during a helicopter pit stop.
Greipl, a university-educated mechanical engineer, constructed the vast majority of solid parts in his own shop from Alibre Design's 3D models.
Only three parts required outsourcing to a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) fabricator.
Using the software, these 3D parts were easily communicated to subcontractors, says Greipl