While skiers can quickly snap their shoes onto their skis, snowboarders have to take the time to kneel and strap themselves into their boards. This often causes some disdain for the skiers that must wait on the snowboarders to strap themselves in before they launch. The day may soon come, though, when snowboarders can simply step onto their boards and have them snap tightly onto their boots with the same mechanism that their skier friends enjoy. It sounds like an obvious solution, but the industry has struggled for years to develop snap-on snowboard bindings that don’t negatively affect performance. Burton Snowboards will be releasing their new Step-On binding next fall, priced at between $250 and $400 and said to finally meet the goal of saving time without sacrificing performance.
Developing the product was no short-term task; the company has been researching and working on it for more than four years. It may have been even longer than that, however, if Burton hadn’t relied on 3D printing to prototype the designs. The company has several 3D printers that they’ve been using for research and development and prototyping for a few years, and that have been responsible for the creation of some of Burton’s other successful recent products.
The company’s SLS 3D printers allowed the Burton team to prototype and test, prototype and test, and prototype again at a rapid pace, rather than having to send designs out to an outside facility and wait for the prototypes to be sent back to them in a process that can take months. The snowboarding industry has been unsuccessfully trying to come up with a satisfactory step-in binding for more than a decade; the fact that Burton was able to take a difficult concept from idea to market-ready product in four years really shows what 3D printing can do for product development.