Dynafit Center of Excellence — Adult Workshop, or Proof of Inner Child?


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 10, 2015      

They get to break stuff, make loud noises, and operate dangerous machinery. Who needs powder skiing?

Much of the equipment here is intended to mirror how TUV tests bindings for certification to DIN-ISO standards. In this case, the binding release check and durability cycling machine releases the binding as many times as you care to set it up for.

Much of the equipment here is intended to mirror how TUV tests bindings for certification to DIN-ISO standards. In this case, the binding release check and durability cycling machine releases the binding as many times as you care to set it up for.

The inner child is alive and well (can you hear that joyful laughter?) at the Dynafit Center of Excellence, a fancy name for the company’s quality control testing and analysis center near Munich, Germany.

First thing you see is the logo.

First thing you see is the logo on the workshop door. I thought this place was beyond cool and did smell like quality, but I also note that once a company hypes their quality control they’d better make good on it.

Dynafit always had somewhat of a ski gear test and prototyping center in Aschheim, Germany where their corporate offices are. But the facility was cramped and not modernized. They stepped things up in 2014, using former warehouse space to build a bright roomy system of interconnected workshops and offices that’s so clean you could make strudel dough on the floor.

This is a test center as well as facility for rapid prototyping. Their 3-axis milling machine is right there next to the entrance door.

This is a test center as well as facility for rapid prototyping. Their 3-axis CNC milling machine is right there next to the entrance door. The joke is that every home workshop in the Tirol has a 3-axis, so why didn’t they get a 4, or a 5? A 3-axis is probably enough for prototyping, and a lot less money. I was told the previous time for getting prototype parts was three weeks or more; with in-house one of manufactured they’re down to one week.

Any legit manufacturer of products that involve personal safety needs to have a facility such as this, or pay a third party (time consuming and expensive) to do the work. In my opinion, testing to this extent has been woefully lacking in the ski touring tech binding industry and is perhaps still on the minimal side with some of the garage brands. But the big players had to step it up. Interestingly, the engineers will tell you that no matter what they do in the lab, things do happen once a product reaches the consumer. “We do our best,” they say “but nothing is perfect and it’s difficult to keep the quality control going all the way from prototype to the product you purchase in a store.”

A couple of things go on here, sometimes simultaneously with a given product, as well as being repeated for prototypes, pre-production “finished” units, and finally on a percentage of retail product to do statistical quality analysis and control (meaning you test a percentage of product from a given batch; if there is a failure recycle the whole batch.) For example, 10% of produced bindings undergo a complete test suite that’s an abbreviated version of the testing TUV does as well as some extra tests specific to a given binding. If any of the 10% have a problem then the whole batch is pulled.

Engineers being engineers, I got a demonstration of why any classic tech binding is problematic. In this case, trapping your ski under a log is simulated. Due to the angles, the force required for release went up more than 30 percent, from about a 6 release value up to an 8.

Engineers being engineers, I got a demonstration of why any classic tech binding is problematic. In this case, trapping your ski under a log is simulated. Due to the angles, the force required for release went up more than 30 percent, from about a 6 release value up to an 8. I don’t include this to be alarmist, only to show that the limited release testing done by TUV is somewhat crippled when it comes to matching real life situations. More, there is debate in binding testing circles about whether it’s best to clamp the ski and yank on the binding, or clamp the binding and yank on the ski.

Release force is graphed.

Release force is graphed.

It's known that with classic tech bindings, ski flex plays quite some role in how much release force the binding really requires to let go, as opposed to what you assume from the numbers printed on the housing.

It’s known that with classic tech bindings, ski flex plays quite some role in how much release force the binding really requires to let go, as opposed to what you assume from the numbers printed on the housing. Here you can see the ski flexing up as the boot is pulled upward by the machine. A softer ski will flex more and allow the boot to come out easier. This is the ‘decamber” situation that with soft skis can also pull the binding heel pins right out of the boot fitting, or for example pull the pins far enough back to allow the now recalled Scarpa Evo Tronic actuator to slide in front of the pins (depending on exact adjustment of the binding.)

A big part of manufacturing is verifying manufactured parts by measurement to be sure finished products will function as intended. 'Measuring and metering' is done by three full-time workers.

A big part of manufacturing is verifying manufactured parts by measurement to be sure finished products will function as intended. ‘Measuring and metering’ is done by three full-time workers. This machine is basic and effective. It greatly magnifies a given part, which you then measure by moving the cross hairs with knobs.

Nice workbench, but I did get the feeling it had been cleaned up a bit for my visit.

Nice workbench, but I did get the feeling it had been cleaned up a bit for my visit. The object on the bench is the ‘boot’ used for binding testing. Behind the boot you can spot some strudel dough they’re rolling out so thin and transparent you can read a Dynafit logo sticker through it.

Another measuring machine.

Another measuring machine.

Release check machines as used by ski shops are included in the tool set.

Wintersteiger release check machines as used by ski shops are included in the tool set.

Montana release check machine is present as well. I was told that Dynafit is working with Montana to develop a system for testing tech bindings, as these machines presently don't work very well due to the bindings having release at the heel and other factors.

Montana release check machine is present as well. I was told that Dynafit is working with Montana to develop a system for testing tech bindings, as these machines presently don’t work very well due to the bindings having release at the heel and other factors.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

Last but not least, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Binding rear housing is placed on the spindle, the hammer is raised, and POW. See video above.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Comments

23 Responses to “Dynafit Center of Excellence — Adult Workshop, or Proof of Inner Child?”

  1. Tuck February 10th, 2015 10:52 am

    “In my opinion, testing to this extent has been woefully lacking in the ski touring tech binding industry and is perhaps still on the minimal side with some of the garage brands.”

    Yes, but the DIN guild has been very effective at keeping these new-comers out. It’s only been because of risk-taking early adopters such as yourself who ignored the lack of safety testing that Dynafit exists at all.

    To mandate such testing eliminates such competition, and is a large part of the reason such testing is so popular with the established players.

    DIN for ski bindings has of course been very successful in reducing the injury it was designed to deal with (tibia fractures) but it also ensures that start-up binding companies have a much higher barrier to entry, and provides ski shops with a steady revenue stream.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 11:07 am

    “Of this sort” is the operative phrase, I’m as big a fan as anyone of not having standards stifle innovation. Fritz and TUV did test the early Dynafit bindings to some extent and one year the TLT actually had a TUV stamp, though to an earlier standard. What I’m talking about is the overall industry especially the smaller brands who most certainly rely on consumer end-user use as their testing. Not that Dynafit hasn’t been guilty of that as well, but they have a much better process now and ‘consumer testing’ should experience some reduction, though I doubt it will ever be eliminated. Just look at the automobile recalls…

    As for DIN keeping newcomers out, it has not had that effect whatsoever. It was only recently that tech bindings began receiving TUV cert to DIN 13992, and at this point it’s only what, three bindings out of at least 75 models over the spectrum that have a TUV certificate? In Italy alone there are probably 45 race models that will never have a 13992 cert, (though we should probably eventually have a norm for skimo race bindings)

    Trab has stated they’re not intending to bother with it, and I doubt Plum or ATK are that concerned.

    Lou

  3. Tuck February 10th, 2015 11:19 am

    “As for DIN keeping newcomers out, it has not had that effect whatsoever.”

    I’ve shopped for Dynafit bindings, and have been told that they’re not safe because they’re not DIN compliant, and the shop can’t test the release. I’ve listened to a respected shop owner explain this to my wife.

    Given that a binding’s sole purpose is to increase the safety of skiing, that’s a pretty damning indictment to someone who can’t evaluate the mechanical function for themselves.

    I understand that you don’t need to shop for bindings, but for those of us who do, DIN has most certainly been used to keep non-DIN binding out of retail.

    Happily that effort has failed, but it’s certainly there.

  4. Tuck February 10th, 2015 11:26 am

    Found a fascinating interview…

    “BCM: Is TÜV certification the end-all/be-all of binding safety?

    “Edwin Lehner: More or less yes, but a binding can be in between the tolerances of requirements….”

    However:

    “Fritz Barthel: Raichle [which owned Dynafit in the ’90s] already had a focus on that issue and had the binding certified by the TÜV in the mid ’90s. It turned out that, for the “crazy specialist,” it did not matter whether there was a TÜV sign or not on the binding. In fact, there was the TÜV stamp on the Dynafit binding for many years. People saw other bindings with TÜV certification emerge, but in practical use they turned out to be not that reliable or functional as the certification seemed to promise and they disappeared again. I feel that the sudden focus now is propelled by the bigger numbers of bindings plus the fact that the binding has left the original “core group.” In this wider group there is more emphasis and demand for certified products.”

    http://backcountrymagazine.com/gear/tech-binding-boom-2015-safety-becomes-tech-binding-cornerstone/

    I can’t believe he didn’t mention you by name! 😉

  5. Phillip February 10th, 2015 11:50 am

    I’ve got to agree with Tuck. Most of the shops around here look at you like you’re suicidal if you’re even considering tech bindings. A friend of mine was looking for a boot and binding for long tours to alpine climbs, and they were trying to sell her overlap boots and plate bindings.

    I ended up mounting my own bindings because no one wanted to touch my F1s, even though I’m only using them for low angle touring.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 12:07 pm

    Tuck, they used to focus on telemarking… now everyone wants to join the fixed heel party. To be expected. Magazines just go where the trends are, that’s their job. Lou

  7. Tuck February 10th, 2015 12:24 pm

    “Tuck, they used to focus on telemarking…”

    Who, Fritz and Edwin? I thought they had something to do with Dynafit? 🙂

  8. Tuck February 10th, 2015 12:26 pm

    “I ended up mounting my own bindings…”

    I’m happy to report that the shops I dealt with did mount my bindings, after they gave me a perfectly reasonable speech about how they couldn’t verify function in the same way they would with an alpine binding.

    I was a certified Salomon binding tech once upon a time. Verifying function was something I was already familiar with.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 1:04 pm

    Tuck, LOL.

    Fritz is still the guy with the vision for what a touring binding should be. He’s also working on some freeride stuff but it’s done the way a freeride binding should be done, in my opinion, and is not a tech binding. Can’t say more right now but I think the true core freeriders will like his idea. Meanwhile, give us in the unwashed cardio masses more touring bindings and full-service mountain huts!

  10. afox February 10th, 2015 1:10 pm

    This is really interesting info, thanks Lou! Yes, one has to wonder if Plum or ATK have the same equipment, testing, and quality control processes that Dynafit does. The info in this entry should be part of dynafits marketing. Makes me more likely to buy a dynafit binding than a tech binding from some of their competitors. In my opinion this process adds value to their product, although one has to wonder how the first generation speed radical heel units made it out of that shop with the counter clockwise rotation problem.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 1:30 pm

    Plum is said to have quite the milling machines, unknown how extensive their testing facilities are. I can always look once I’m over there again. Agree about the first generation Radicals, especially the cracking housing with the pin anti-rotation. But that was all before they got this testing system really going. Hopefully it would have caught the cracking housing problem. Some things, not so easy to catch. Remember that “testing” is NEVER real life, it is just an imperfect simulation of some factors. Lou

  12. JSP February 10th, 2015 3:57 pm

    Not sure what Fritz is working on, but it is surprising that someone hasn’t developed an alpine binding with a heel that slides back and a “tech toe” that flips up from under boot or slides back from the opposite side of the alpine toe (e.g., when the heel slides back). The tech toe could be very simple (even given the simplicity of the tech toes) as it is only used for uphill. Given the current stand height for most non-tech AT bindings the application specific tech toe wouldn’t interfere with release when in alpine mode. While more complicated than a standard tech binding, it doesn’t seem too complicated (relatively speaking) to implement and would satisfy the freeride market you refer to without forcing them into a tech binding for the downhill.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 5:13 pm

    JSP, Cast already does this only by swapping bindings in a plate system. Your idea has merit, there are patents out there. Alpine bindings are really quite nice, and some are quite light. Lou

  14. JSP February 10th, 2015 5:21 pm

    Lou, Agreed. I am aware of the cast system and have watched another use it in the field. Talk about slow transition times. Lots of respect for what they did and I’m sure some people love it. I much prefer my verticals. Thanks.

  15. See February 10th, 2015 7:33 pm

    If CAST made a mount system for the heel like the one for the toe where the alpine heel could be swapped for a light riser gizmo (getting the weight of the alpine heel off the ski for climbing) I’d be all over it, transition times notwithstanding.

  16. Rachel Bellamy February 10th, 2015 7:53 pm

    wow, what a cool job! I bet that was a cool lab to be in Lou.

  17. Charlie Hagedorn February 10th, 2015 8:10 pm

    Super cool, Lou. Thanks for photos, prose and video!

  18. See February 10th, 2015 10:15 pm

    I should add that I’ve never even seen the CAST system, so I’m just assuming the mounts work, which is a big assumption.

  19. See February 10th, 2015 11:00 pm

    I also wonder if naming a binding system “CAST” doesn’t make about as much sense as naming a car “Impact.”

  20. XXX_er February 11th, 2015 12:39 pm

    The purpose of the CAST system is to allow touring with alpine race gear which is then used to drop more extreme lines … different app than your dynafit speed radicals

  21. XXX_er February 11th, 2015 1:27 pm

    I got curious so I goggled, in nature a group of hawks is called a cast of hawks, the name CAST honors departed extreme skier Ryan Hawk who was the founder of CAST

  22. See February 11th, 2015 7:24 pm

    XXX_er, thanks for the information regarding the CAST name. No disrespect intended (actually the Impact was a cool car as well, and way ahead of its time). I do, however, think that quick change binding mounts for both toe and heel would have much wider application than just extreme touring with alpine race bindings. Consider the hype surrounding freeride tech bindings with TUV certification. With quick change mounts for both toe and heel, one could climb with the weight of a tech binding on the ski, and descend with the performance of an alpine binding. Or just mount a tech toe and heel and ski that on some days. No kidding, if CAST added quick heel mounts to their system and it worked, I would buy it.

  23. See February 11th, 2015 8:42 pm

    And, in case any one is wondering, there are already a few solutions (that I haven’t personally tried, e.g. Marker Lords) for AT boot/alpine binding compatibility, but I suspect this issue will go away with the growth of the AT market. And the Impact was the GM EV1’s first incarnation.

  Your Comments


  Recent Posts




Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

 



  • Blogroll & Links


  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version