The European Pultrusion Technology Association held its second composite catapult competition July 7-8. Before anyone asks, the Dutch won.
Originally six teams were scheduled to attend the competition in the small Netherlands village of `t Harde, but four teams had to cancel. The Lancaster Bombers from the Lancaster University in England withdrew because the team was unable to complete their catapult in time. Three teams from the United States - Black Bear from the University of Maine, Cat-A-Pult from the University of Arizona and Virginia Tech from the university of the same name - had to cancel because they could not afford to transport their trebuchets to Europe.
``This was a big disappointment for all three teams since a mere contribution by the American Composite Industry of $12,000 would have taken them and their catapults over to Europe,'' said EPTA association director Jaap H. Ketel in an e-mail.
The German Bowling Combo from the University of Applied Science in Kaiserslautern-Permasens and the eventual winners, Earth Crisis from Windesheim University in Zwolle, the Netherlands, were the two remaining teams
Earth Crisis won by hurling an orange, 12-pound bowling ball nearly 200 feet. A gear on their catapult broke when they tried to better their distance. The German Bowling Combo ran into some technical difficulties before they could fire their first shot.
Earth Crisis' catapult weighed 435 pounds, just beneath the maximum allowed.
``The tensioning force was about 4,500 [newtons]. We used two tractors to tension the spring blades. One of the tractors was on the brake and when we released the other, that one moved,'' said Earth Crisis team leader John Ensing.
Ensing's team was excited over the win, but kept the victory party Spartan.
``For us it was a small celebration,'' said Ensing. ``Because there wasn't much money to celebrate it with. All in all, the project cost about 2,000 euros ($2,480).''
No cash prize was awarded to the victor. In 2003, the winner received 5,000 euros ($6,220), according to Ensing.
Each team consisted of four active members: a team leader - who ensured the safety of his teammates - a triggerman and two operators. But both teams had substitutes. Earth Crisis was composed of six second-year students.
The catapults were built from pultruded reinforced composite profiles. Metal could be used only for rotating parts like washers, nuts, and bolts. The entire contraption, including metal fixtures, ropes, cables and triggers, had to weigh less than 441 pounds. All catapults had to be anchored to the ground for safety reasons.
This year's contest was significantly smaller than the first catapult competition. In 2003, the Finnish team Triple Strike won by hurling a bowling ball almost 650 feet against a field of five other teams.
There has been some talk of having the next catapult competition in the United States and organized by the American Composites Manufacturers Association, Ketel said, but nothing has been confirmed.