When creating a new boat model or product, we apply the most state of the art resources and design methodologies to assure that the final results meets the goals with a precision only allowed with modern technologies. This process is conducted by a team of specialized personnel, with several years of expertise on developing new shapes.
The typical design process has the following stages:
A new boat has always a starting point, that can be a previous model, or some handmade prototype to get the general ideal. By using a 3D scanner we can rapidly and accurately scan the boats/parts/components and draw them in CAD software. Our laser scanner works by shooting millions of points very fast at the target and thus getting very precise information about its shape.
Computer Aided Engineering is an important part of our development cycle. After the 3D Scanning step our boats are redesigned in CAD software and validated through CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis and simulation, thus closing the reverse engineering cycle.
The resultant design is then and machined for the best accuracy possible.
Small parts and components are often directly designed in the CAD software for rapid prototyping and machining.
Prototyping is used when we want to test a new solution. In sports engineering as to walk side-by-side with ergonomy and design so we need a series of solutions and materials for rapid prototyping our ideas. For big parts like boats we can use our CNC machine that allows us to mill in 1:1 scale the whole boat and test it in very few steps. We also have a 3D printer to build small parts from the ground up, very useful to test new fittings.
Our boats are all hand made by the most skilled Nelo workers. The first step of the whole process is the painting of the mould with gelcoat, very resistant to scratches and wear. Then the lamination process: different fibres are deposited in the mould with layers of epoxy resin in a process called wet layup. When the lamination process is over vacuum is applied and the boat goes to curing. For most of our boats the vacuum cure is done with the hull and deck already put together, making it one piece and providing extra rigidity. After the curing cycle the boat is released from the mold and is sent to the finishing.
At Nelo we are always challenging ourselves and looking for constant improvement and development. The innovation does not occur only in our boats designs or new accessories for your boat, but also in the manufacturing process. Our main goal is to build the most stiff and resistant boat combined with performance, stability and comfort, the fastest and least harmful way for our workers. For that we are developing new techniques that keep pushing the envelope and opening new frontiers!
Benchmark and Feedback
Our boats are designed and built with the athlete’s feedback in mind and this type of relationship is crucial for the success of NELO. In our training sessions with the athlete’s, we collect their feedback and bring it to the factory so that the boats correspond to their high expectations. This step is of great importance in our product development cycle and we need to translate this feedback in scientific knowledge. Since February 2010, we have started a new investigation project for the motion analysis of the boats/athletes interface. How do we translate such statements has “…the boat is heavy/lighter on the bow.” or “I think I’m too pushed to the front/back of the boat.”? With the inclusion of wireless triaxial accelerometers and custom built analysis software we can now analyse the boats motion and translate such statements in scientific knowledge.
With the huge amounts of data and videos that we collect during our training sessions we then need to analyse and compare the data. A common analysis in our training sessions is the athlete’s position on the boat. How far to the front or to the back should the athlete sit? We can do a test run with the athlete in several positions and then compare the data. Looking at the acceleration and tilt profiles can give us lots of useful information but when we merge the profiles with the video, the analysis options grow radically. Dartfish is the right software tool for this task. With sports in mind the software helps us synchronize the acceleration and tilt profiles with the videos in a few clicks. We then can compare the test runs by playing the videos side by side. We can trace orientation lines in the video with the powerful graphical tools. Because Dartfish is very user friendly and quick we can make the analysis in front of the athletes and answer to their questions at the moment. We can do a series of test runs, do the video/data analysis and then do the next series of test runs with that information in mind.
We were able to pour this knowledge into the Nelo Coach app and so make it available to the consumer market in a very usable tool so that every paddler can have feedback and improve on a day to day basis.