Student Work

The realization of a rock climbing protection device utilizing axiomatic design


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This Major Qualifying Project (MQP) has evaluated rock climbing protection devices utilizing axiomatic design of Nam Suh. Axiomatic design is a rigorous design theory that allows the designer to correlate the functional requirements and the design parameters of a given device, system, or an organization. We have investigated rock climbing mechanics, the free climbing protection system, and the protection devices, in order to gain a full understanding of what types of functional requirements that are needed to design and manufacture an optimum rock climbing protection device. We begin this realization process by decomposing the highest level mapping of the functional requirements to design parameters, until the corresponding design parameters completely define the design solution. We have also employed the axiomatic design to examine the existing protection devices found in the market. This provides us an opportunity to compare the proposed design of our protection devices to existing devices. It was found, in particular, that the designs did not perform as well as the spring loaded camming devices (SLCDs). The new designs are complicated, have many parts, and are suitable only for limited crack ranges. After the evaluation of existing protection devices, it was found that the tri-cam device could be easily altered to create additional functionality and this in turn simplifies its uses. The functional requirements we found by using axiomatic design states that a protection device should be easily used in most rock climbing situations. However, this was not the case with the tri-cam. We constructed a sleeve that slips around the webbing, which is attached to the tri-cam. It holds the tri-cam head in proper orientation for placement as a taper and moreover, it enables one to place the tri-cam as a camming device. The sleeve protects the webbing from abrasions due to the surrounding rocks. The sleeve has been constructed from a polyethylene plastic material because of its desired rigidity, its ability to withstand constant use, and for its ability to withstand harsh environmental weather conditions. The sleeve is punched by a die stamp, folded into the desired shape with grooves for a hand grip and then glued or melted together. Based on the prototype testing we conducted, the tri-cam was easier to use, because it took less time to place and enables placement of the tri-cam into deeper cracks. Moreover, it creates additional reach for the climbers during placement. This low cost add-on feature enhances the versatility of the tri-cam, which can mean a great deal to an individual hanging off a cliff several hundred feet from the ground. The performance of the tri-cam was improved by using the sides of the tri-cam as a placement feature. This improvement increases the likelihood that the climber will safely place the protection device within the rock. Finally, the mapping of the functional requirements to design parameters for rock climbing protection devices has been developed. It is our hope that this mapping of the functional requirements to design parameters will foster future technological advancement in rock climbing protection devices.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • 99C031M
  • 1999
Date created
  • 1999-01-01
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