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Cosmic Grips and the Future of Climbing Hold Design

May 30, 2022
Industry News

Cosmic Grips, a fresh new brand from Israel, is bringing a contemporary approach to the decades-old art of climbing hold design and production. Pivoting from the traditional artistry of carving a foam block, Nir Beit-Av uses his experience in product design to create 3D models of his shapes and hold families. The team at Cosmic then 3D prints the models, inspects the holds for ergonomics and feel, and makes any necessary changes before shipping the master to Vertical Solutions in Salt Lake City for molding and production.

A venerable figure in the Israeli climbing scene, Cosmic’s co-owner, Yuval Hamburg, brings a wealth of experience and business acumen to the team. Yuval started the international federation, coached the national team for years, and now owns the largest climbing gym chain in Israel, Performance Rock. In fact, when Yuval opened the first bouldering gym in Israel in 2007, he hired Nir, a college student at the time, as his first employee. Together, the two ambitious entrepreneurs' experience and drive are positioning them at the forefront of climbing hold innovation and modernization.

Nir, who refers to himself as a “local digital nomad,” is frequently on the move throughout Israel with his wife and two children. As an experienced industrial designer and mechanical engineer, Nir loves combining his honed professional skills with his longtime love of climbing.

Cosmic came to life two years ago when the pair realized their collective potential and shared vision for the future of climbing.

“We saw a lot of opportunity to bring this professional knowledge of design and engineering to the area of hold manufacturing. We can bring a lot of innovation through 3D printing, digital design, and the advanced and current professional methods that are used in the car, space, and defense industry,” Nir tells us.

We think about the holds as a product, not a sculpture. This is the approach that differentiates us.

“There are aesthetic, mechanical, and financial benefits to designing holds digitally,” Nir explains. “Using digital files instead of physical masters allows for simple design alterations and easy global dispersion. It also enables hold design as a mechanical function, which simply cannot be done by hand.”

With digital climbing hold design, a dusty, spacious workshop is no longer a necessity. Throw away the respirator and shelves of foam; the hold-shapers of the future demand only a laptop. Furthermore, the tools of Cosmic Grips are not Dremels, sanding blocks, and X-Acto knives, but rather a conglomerate of digital design programs such as Solidworks, Rhino, Fusion 360, Blender, and Mudbox. Each of these programs presents different functions, both for design and mechanical orientation.

You cannot put the digital file in your hands. Nir tells us that through experience and basic rules of ergonomics, dimensions, and curve, Cosmic can overcome this difficulty.

“Of course, when you print the master and feel that something is wrong, you can always go back and make updates,” he says.

Digital design makes mistakes easy to correct. If Nir realizes the radius of a holds edge is a bit too sloped or aggressive once printed, theres no need to start from stratch.

Nir optimizes his time by designing new holds while 3D-printing masters. Digital hold shapers can share or sell their products without ever pouring plastic. Reducing time spent on logistics lets Nir focus on Cosmic's priority: quality.

“We don’t want to lose time, money, effort, and materials making a product that will not be well received by the public. We want to make only amazing holds that will be popular, classic, and sold in masses for decades to come,” Nir tells us.

Nir tells us that a deep understanding of the history of the market is fundamental in understanding its future. Nir further explains what’s needed of a successful shaper: “To be a climber, to climb on thousands of holds, to know all the brands, to investigate shapes and trends with a magnifying glass... I think about who are the leading brands and why? Who leads designs? What are good designs that are popular and what are good designs that aren’t popular?”

When asked about the biggest challenge he faces as a shaper, Nir stated that he must balance identity and visually recognizable characteristics while remaining unique, timeless, and ergonomic.

Why did Cosmic choose to pour with Vertical Solutions? Yuval took inspiration from Blocz whose holds already fill his gyms. Their holds come from Vertical Solutions and recommended our service.

Furthermore, Yuval tells us, “The Front is a big inspiration for me as a gym owner and we thought that manufacturing our holds with Vertical Solutions would be a good fit. Additionally, finding our holds at The Front and other gyms that Vertical Solutions has built is an amazing opportunity for us.”

With Vertical Solutions, hold brands automatically benefit by seeing their holds in more of our existing and future clients' gyms.

Nir is buoyantly confident about what is to come for Cosmic.

This is the first step for Cosmic into the climbing industry as innovation, but this is the beginning. There is more innovation to bring!

We are looking forward to seeing Cosmic Grips on more walls. Browse Cosmic Grips at the Vertical Solutions Store.