The steel man

#tkgoesPyeongChang | Engineering | People at thyssenkrupp | thyssenkrupp has been cooperating with luge world champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken since 2014. Their goal is clear: gold in South Korea. The second in a series of reports about the team behind the world champions focuses on Michael Linnepe.

It was no ordinary day at work for Michael Linnepe as he set out for the German town of Ilsenburg with a high-precision 3D scanner in summer 2017. The trip was a further important step on the path to gold, as it was there that he met luger Toni Eggert for the first time. The luge doubles world champion has set up his own workshop in Ilsenburg to work on his sled and its components. Michael’s mission was to scan the steel blades – the most important part of a luge – millimeter by millimeter. These measurements resulted in a complex virtual 3D model which Toni Eggert can now use to develop the optimum blade variants for all weather and ice conditions. Toni had already found the ideal steel a year earlier at thyssenkrupp – minimal friction, readily processable, maximum speed.

From raw material to perfect product

Michael Linnepe is not only the newest, he’s also the ‘hardest’ member of the pit stop crew, at least when it comes to his choice of material: He’s the expert for steel. He works for thyssenkrupp in Dortmund as project manager for Technology and Innovation, the link between product development and end customer. He’s responsible for ensuring that the steel products ultimately meet the exact requirements and expectations of the customers, who are mainly from the automotive industry. “My work is very varied. I have an office and I’m often to be found in the lab, for example when measurements or forming tests are being carried out. But I’m also in constant contact with customers and institutes, so I get about a lot,” says Michael.

From the lab to the ice track

While for the lugers things are starting to hot up, with forthcoming World Cup, European Championship and the Games in South Korea, for the engineer the scans he made in Ilsenburg were just the first step. He’s working with Alex Meier to establish a process that will enable them to machine the blades for optimum results at thyssenkrupp. If successful this would save Toni months of manual work and give him more time for training. “For me the special attraction of the luge project is being able to contribute our steel expertise to such a traditional sport,” says Michael. “And I’m driven by the same idea that’s behind Formula 1: constantly trying to save another thousandth of a second and perfect the technical processes.”

The truth is revealed on the ice

Now it was time for another trip. Michael had the opportunity to see the steel from thyssenkrupp in action for the first time. Together with his family he traveled to the World Cup race in Winterberg and experienced the team’s second win in a row. Toni and Sascha already had an impressive 0.215 second lead after the first run, and they once again ended up on the top of the winners’ podium. A perfect day for the lugers and Michael. So things are looking very good for Pyeongchang: “Everything was just right with the material today,” says Michael. “The steel is optimal.” But he’ll be back to watching TV when the lugers compete for gold.

The thyssenkrupp pit stop crew

thyssenkrupp has been cooperating with luge world champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken since 2014. Three engineers from the Group contribute their expertise to making the sled faster and better year by year. The carbon pod has been further enhanced, the runners optimized and the key elements of the sled – the blades – made even faster. Two communications experts are also accompanying the lugers in their work. Their goal is clear: gold in South Korea.

Author

Jason Conley
  • written by Jason Conley
  • 8. February 2018

very good article – good to see this gents skills getting utilized and recognized. Well done sir.

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