How can you design a roller coaster so that it is lighter, simpler and more efficient, without compromising safety? The German engineering firm Stengel Gmbh devised a cost-effective solution to do just this.
Stengel is the market leader in the design and construction of roller coasters. V.O. worked with them to protect their invention.
Stengel’s new design is an innovation aimed at the attachment of so-called ‘backbone rail tracks’. The construction for this type of roller coaster consists of two steel tubes – the basic rail on which the train travels – and a thick tube – the backbone – that reinforces the track and absorbs the huge G-forces. This construction is used for large roller coasters with loops.
Efficiency creates a competitive advantage
“The challenge is always how you connect the backbone of the roller coaster to the track, particularly where there are twisted sections of track in the bends”, said Christian Stelzl, CEO of Stengel. “Until now, this has been done using hollow steel forms, which all need to be tailor-made. We found a smarter solution for this.”
The new construction replaces the connecting tubes with simpler plates. Stelzl: “We can now limit ourselves to one type of plate which means that expensive custom work is no longer required. Even if there is a twist in the section of track, the plates can always be easily attached in the same way to the backbone. The plates also require less material, making them lighter and cheaper to produce. At the same time, the stability of the track construction is maintained. That is interesting for our client, the manufacturer of the roller coaster. Thanks to our patent, our clients are able to manufacture more efficiently. That gives our client an immediate competitive advantage.”
Speaking the same language
Stelzl and Lutz Keydel, a patent attorney at V.O. in Munich, worked together on the protection of Stengel’s design, their intellectual property. “The best thing about working with V.O. is that we speak the same technical language, so no further elaboration or explanation was needed”, said Stelz. “We are both civil engineers, which helps immensely”, added Lutz Keydel from V.O. Stelzl: “The patent process was iterative. We were in close contact and no demand was too much. This meant that we could continuously fine-tune the text in the patent application.”
Stengel’s new design has been granted a patent in Germany. It has since used the design for new roller coasters that are currently being built. The patents in Europe, China and the United States are being processed.
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