The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games are already shaping up to be the event of the year for folks in the UK. It will be the largest multi-sport event ever held in Scotland with everything from Judo to weight-lifting included in the mix. The Queen is booked to perform the opening ceremony and will be holding something almost as impressive as the crown jewels – a titanium 3D printed baton reminiscent of the Olympic torch. Scottish company 4C Design, in conjunction with British additive manufacturer 3T RPD, is in charge of the baton's creation and they've already completed the design. It was necessary for them to work that far in advance because prior to the opening ceremony, the baton will be featured in a 288 day relay that covers 118,000 miles and encompasses each of the seventy one nations competing in the games.
In order to produce the baton the designers had to meet strict requirements. It couldn't weigh any more than 4.4 lbs, it must be easily handed from person to person and it has to be durable enough to withstand the ten month long relay leading up to the games.
Each aspect of the baton is steeped in tradition. The baton's handle is made from elm wood gathered on the Isle of Cumbrae and constructed by Scottish company GalGael. They used a boat-builder's technique called bird-mouthing to create a smooth and lightweight piece that can easily be passed from person to person while remaining strong enough to hold up the 3D printed titanium cap.
The titanium cap features a lattice-like design that was printed on the direct metal selective laser sintering (DMSLS) 3D printers at 3T RPD. Within the lattice is a small chamber illuminated by LED lights. The chamber holds a sealed scroll with a message from the Queen herself, to be read at the Glasgow Games opening ceremony on July 23, 2014. The scroll containing the Queen's message was handmade in Glasgow from linen and plant fiber sourced from Scotland. The top of the baton also includes a ceremonial granite gift stone which each country along its ten month journey will receive as a keepsake – but only after they manage to figure out an underlying puzzle mechanism which holds the gem in place.
When considering the design for the baton, the creators wanted to highlight the Queen's scroll rather than hiding it away in a sealed chamber. Thanks to the freedom of 3D printed design, they were able to accomplish their goals. Direct metal 3D printing offers many advantages not always available via traditional crafting methods. In this case, the designers were able to create an openwork motif that both reveals the scroll and keeps it secure. The baton will begin its ten month tour in India on October 14, 2013 and will return to Scotland just prior to the opening of the games in July 2014.
You can take a look at a video detailing the creation of the baton here: