People usually don’t think much about our feet – we use them for walking almost subconsciously while everything goes well. We only think of them when they hurt, when something is wrong with them – or when we lose them.
Pipistrel is a world leading producer of light aircraft. Our products have wings and move through the air so feet are pretty much the last thing on our minds. But a few days ago we were surprised by the visit of Mr. Matej Vidmar, which set our feet firmly to the ground – quite literally.

Pipistrel R&D engineer mag. David Eržen with Mr. Matej Vidmar

Mr. Vidmar was doing his military service at the school for reserve officers in Ljubljana. With the other pupils of military high school he was out on the Bloke plain, doing his field exercises. They had a practice mine field set up for them, but nobody noticed a package of real APL (anti-personnel landmines) that got mixed up with the fake ones.
Mr. Vidmar was the first in the row to cross the minefield. He didn’t step on the mine. In the very first moment as the tip of his boot touched the edge of the mine, it exploded. His foot got torn to pieces and the boys in the line behind him got shrapnel in their eyes and faces…
At first he didn’t lose the entire foot, but later in the hospital they told him that the injury was too severe and that his foot needed to be removed. He was left with just a part of his heel. He himself says he is lucky to be at least able to walk – up until a few years ago the only thing that was supplied to him through his medical insurance was one pair of orthopedic shoes per year. He says he couldn’t help himself much with the shoes – he comes from a mountainous region but the shoes are not much use either in snow or on rough terrain. He helped himself by buying tall hiking boots and trying to fix his limb inside as well as he could.

Only a year ago he had a stroke of luck. He was visiting the University Rehabilitation Institute Soča when he – by sheer coincidence – overheard a rumour about one of their engineers who could make silicone prosthetics. Mr. Vidmar contacted him and ordered a silicone foot. The model significantly improved his ability to walk, it enabled him to use other types of footwear – but it still wasn’t the most comfortable. Despite the inside being molded after his limb, the foot itself was a standard one, designed after an average foot shape. So he contacted Pipistrel with the request to make a 3D scan of his healthy foot and make an inverse copy of it which would fit him perfectly.

Pipistrel uses the most advanced technology for fast prototyping and reverse engineering of aircraft: from a 3D printer capable of making small prototypes with the accuracy within a fraction of a millimetre, our 5-axis water-jet cutter all the way to an 8-axis robotic CNC machine that can shape molds and prototypes to a size of more than 7 meters. Pipistrel R&D department practices all types of 3D modelling and technical design in programs such Catia, Inventor and other 3D tools and functional shape-testing and simulations in virtual wind-tunnel. All of these services are also available for outside customers.

One of these tasks is 3D scanning. With a 3D laser scanner the Pipistrel R&D engineers can scan a shape of an object – such as a foot – for further processing in 3D computer programs. Among other things they can invert the shape and print a copy of it – which is exactly what Mr. Vidmar wanted for his new prosthetic foot:

The process of 3D-scanning: reflective reference point stickers need to be applied to the model and then the laser scanner will detect the 3D shape and transfer it to a computer program for further processing. 

The Pipistrel team successfully completed the task – but it remained in our minds. If you’re thinking about wings all day long, you don’t think about legs. Only the opportunity to help Mr. Vidmar reminded us of the fact how dependent we are on our feet, and how precious they are to us. We are very lucky to use them and not everyone has this fortune. We were very happy to have been able to apply technology for designing flying machines to help someone walking.

It was a great coincidence that just at this time, when our thoughts were with victims of land mines and our means of helping them, we were contacted by the organisation for Enhancing Human Security (ITF), previously known as International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (http://www.itf-fund.si/ ). They introduced to us the “Lend your leg” global action and the 4. April, the international day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action http://www.un.org/en/events/mineawarenessday/lendyourleg.shtml 
Through this campaign ITF is trying to raise awareness about the problem of APL both locally and globally. To reach this goal ITF is appeals to the public to roll up a trouser leg in a simple but symbolic gesture of to stop the damage landmines still cause while showing solidarity with all survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of war. The ultimate cause is to achieve a global ban on the use of landmines.

ITF is a humanitarian, non-profit organization, established by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in March 1998 as a regional partner to provide assistance and support in relation to post-conflict rehabilitation, elimination of landmines threat, help to landmine victims and raising global awareness about the danger of the APL.
Since then ITF with the help of financial donors cleaned 129 million sq.meters of terrain in the region of South-eastern Europe, south Caucasus and Lebanon. Bosnia and Herzegovina still remain among the most mine-polluted countries in the world and are therefore the central focus of the ITF activity. The neighboring Croatia, a very popular summer tourist destination, still copes with the problem of mine pollution as well.

ITF set a challenge for Pipistrel: gather the entire workers team and take a photo with rolled-up trouser legs to support their effort. Currently Pipistrel is celebrating the production of the aircraft no.700, so we used this opportunity to gather next to it and pose for the photo. We did that just before 4. April which is the international day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

The Pipistrel team got to know the problems of the disabled people and landmine victims though the task of modelling a 3D foot, so we would like to help ITF in their effort of raising the awareness of ATP danger in the wider public.

Will you help also? Roll up your trouser leg and support ITF! 

Find your local “Lend your leg” community and like it on Facebook:
Lend your leg community
Lend your leg BIH
Lend your leg USA

Imamo krila, zato posodimo svoje noge!

Ljudje o svojih nogah niti ne razmišljamo kaj dosti – imamo jih za hojo in jih skoraj nevede uporabljamo, dokler gre vse v redu. Nanje pomislimo šele, ko nas bolijo, ko je z njimi kaj narobe – ali ko jih nimamo več.
Pipistrel je eden od vodilnih svetovnih proizvajalcev lahkih letal. Pipistrelovi produkti imajo krila in se premikajo po zraku, zato zaposleni na Pipistrelu ne razmišljamo veliko o nogah. Vendar pa nas je prav v zadnjih dneh doletel dogodek, obisk gospoda Mateja Vidmarja, ki nas je z oblakov dobesedno postavil na trdna tla.

Pipistrelov razvojni inženir mag. David Eržen in g. Matej Vidmar

G. Vidmar je služil 15-mesečni vojaški rok v šoli za rezervne oficirje v Ljubljani. Z učenci vojaške gimnazije iz Ljubljane so bili na vajah na Blokah. Postavili so jim vadbeno minsko polje, da bi preizkušali delovanje min, vendar nihče ni opazil, da se je med vadbene zamešal en paket pravih protipehotnih min.
G. Vidmar je bil prvi v vrsti za prečkanje polja. Na mino ni stopil. V prvem trenutku, ko se je je samo dotaknil s konico čevlja, jo je razneslo. Njemu je raztrgalo stopalo, fantje v vrsti za njim so dobili drobce v oči, obraz…
Sprva ni bil ob celo stopalo, vendar so mu kasneje v bolnici rekli, da je bila poškodba na žalost tako huda, da so mu ga bili primorani odrezati. Ostal mu je samo del pete. Sam pravi, da je hvaležen, da mu je ostalo vsaj toliko, da lahko hodi: do pred dveh let nazaj mu je namreč pripadal samo en par ortopedskih čevljev na leto. Pravi, da si s čevlji ni mogel kaj dosti pomagati, saj je doma iz višje ležečega območja, ortopedski čevlji pa niso uporabni niti v snegu, niti na grobem terenu. Pomagal si je tako, da si je kupil visoke pohodniške čevlje in poskusil vanje kar najbolje fiksirati okončino.

Šele prejšnje leto se mu je nasmehnila sreča – čisto po naključju je v Univerzitetnem rehabilitacijskem inštitutu RS – Soča dobil informacijo enega od njihovih inženirjev, izdelovalcev silikonskih stopal. G. Vidmar je kontaktiral omenjenega inženirja in pri njem naročil izdelavo stopala. Model silikonskega stopala mu je precej izboljšal kvaliteto hoje, omogočil uporabo drugih tipov obutve… Toda še vedno mu ni najudobnejše, saj je kljub temu, da je ležišče proteze oblikovano po poškodovani nogi, samo stopalo oblikovano po neki drugi standardni obliki. Zato je kontaktiral Pipistrel z željo, da bi posneli obliko njegove zdrave noge in izdelali kopijo, ki bi mu bila popolnoma prav.

Pipistrel za načrtovanje in izdelavo letal uporablja najsodobnejšo tehnologijo na področju hitrega prototipiranja ter povratnega inženirstva: od 3D tiskalnika, ki oblikuje majhne prototipe z natančnostjo delčka milimetra, preko 5-osnega vodnega reza pa vse do 8-osnega robotskega sistema, ki lahko izdela prototipe ali izreže kalupe do velikosti 7 metrov. Nanj je mogoče namestiti tudi šobe za brizganje plastične mase, tako da deluje kot velikanski 3D tiskalnik.

Pipistrelov razvojni oddelek izvaja vse vrste 3D modeliranja v različnih programih, tehnično načrtovanje v Catii, Inventorju in drugih 3D orodjih, 3D modeliranje ter funkcionalno preverjanje oblike v virtualnem vetrovniku. Vse te storitve nudi tudi zunanjim naročnikom.

Ena od tovrstnih storitev je 3D skeniranje. Z laserskim 3D-bralnikom lahko Pipistrelovi razvojni inženirji posnamejo podobo fizičnega predmeta – na primer stopala – za nadaljnjo obdelavo v grafičnih programih. Med drugim lahko tovrstno 3D podobo obrnejo zrcalno in iz nje izdelajo kopijo, kar je točno to, kar si je g.Vidmar želel za novo protezo svoje noge:

Proces 3D-skeniranja: na 3D model je najprej potrebno nalepiti odsevne referenčne točke in nato z laserskim bralnikom odčitati obliko predmeta ter jo prenesti v računalniški program za nadaljnjo obdelavo.

Pipistrelov kolektiv je uspešno opravil nalogo, vendar nam je ostala v mislih. Če se vse dni ukvarjaš s krili, ne pomisliš na noge. Šele priložnost, da smo spoznali g. Vidmarja, nas je opomnila na dejstvo, koliko nam lahko pomeni uporaba nog, saj mnogi nimajo te sreče. Bili smo zelo veseli, da smo s tehnologijo za ustvarjanje letal lahko pomagali nekomu pri hoji.

Kot po naključju nas je ravno v teh dneh, ko se ukvarjamo z inovativnimi pristopi na področju pomoči invalidom, ki so žrtve min, kontaktirala ITF Ustanova za krepitev človekove varnosti in nam ob obeležitvi 4. aprila, mednarodnega dneva boja proti minam, predstavila akcijo »Posodi svojo nogo«.

ITF si skozi omenjeno kampanjo prizadeva za ozaveščanje domače javnosti o minski problematiki v bližnji soseščini in po svetu. Za dosego tega cilja pri ITF pozivajo širšo javnost, da zaviha hlačnico in s tem podpre globalno akcijo za prepoved uporabe protipehotnih min v svetu.

ITF je bil ustanovljen s strani Republike Slovenije leta 1998 v znak podpore koncu konfliktov na območju Jugovzhodne Evrope, pri čemer je nastopil kot regionalni partner za protiminsko delovanje (razminiranje, pomoč žrtvam min, ozaveščanje o nevarnosti min). Od takrat je ITF s pomočjo svojih donatorjev očistil 129 milijonov kvadratnih metrov ozemlja v regiji Jugovzhodne Evrope, južnem Kavkazu in Libanonu. Bosna in Hercegovina še danes spada med minsko najbolj onesnažene države na svetu in je zato tudi osrednji fokus delovanja ITF. Poleg tega se sosednja Hrvaška, ki je ena izmed najbolj priljubljenih turističnih destinacij Slovencev, še vedno spopoda s problemom minske onesnaženosti.

Pri ITF so Pipistrelu postavili izziv: zbrati celoten kolektiv in se fotografirati z dvignjenimi hlačnicami v znak podpore njihovemu prizadevanju. Po naključju smo te dni dokončali tudi proizvodnjo jubilejnega sedemstotega letala, zato smo se zbrali in se fotografirali ob njem. To smo naredili tik pred 4. aprilom, ki je dan mednarodnega ozaveščanja o nevarnosti min.
Pipistrelov kolektiv se je skozi nalogo oblikovanja 3D modela poškodovane okončine seznanil s težavami invalidov, ki so žrtve min, zato želimo izpostaviti problematiko min v javnosti in po naših močeh podpreti prizadevanja ITF.

Zavihaj si hlačnico tudi ti in podpri ITF!  Všečkaj akcijo »Posodi svojo nogo« na Facebooku!