in the world of sports, Cycling and 3D printing It has proven time and time again that it is a winning duo. This is particularly the case in areas where technology can play a major role in improving performance. One example is the design of bicycle saddles, which need to be improved for the comfort, health and performance of the athlete. However, today’s companies often find it difficult to develop the right equipment to suit each user, and this is where additive manufacturing comes in. As you know, one of the main advantages of using AM is the ability to create custom parts that adapt to each person’s morphology. For this reason, companies like AMT Or BASF 3D Printing Solutions put their solutions at the service of bicycle manufacturers. Such was the case for the Czech company Posedla, which is dedicated to creating cycling gear. It has taken advantage of the advantages of 3D printing, its materials and corresponding post-processing for use by top athletes.
With the goal of creating improved bike saddles, Posedla has drawn on the expertise and experience of companies dedicated to additive manufacturing. Using each rider’s individual characteristics, they were able to design and produce a fully customized saddle tailored to the rider’s anatomy, as well as ride shape, flexibility and more. To do this, a test set was sent to the user from which the necessary information was taken, such as the width of the sitting bones and the impression of the sitting area. Subsequently, a 3D model of the saddle is generated through computational modeling software. This is a clear example of the developments that can be seen in product personalization, which shows that the consumer goods industry is undergoing fundamental change.
After getting the 3D model of the saddle, it’s time to move on to manufacturing. In this case, Posedla chose solutions from three large companies in the sector: HP, AMT and BASF 3D Printing Solutions. For the printing process, they wanted to find a suitable method in scalable production, so HP Multi Jet Fusion technology was chosen. In terms of materials, they were looking for a flexible polymer that would be both durable and UV-resistant. Given these requirements, BASF 3D Printing Solutions has proposed, through its Forward AM material brand, the Ultrasint® TPU01 flexible polymer. The combination of HP technology with Forward AM material enables the creation of structures of different rigidities. This provides strong support in the seat bone area, gradients with different parameters related to the forward and backward movement in the saddle and the softer nose area of the saddle.
Finally, another essential aspect was post processing of the final product. AMT, known for its advanced post-processing solutions, enables parts to be certified for use in the most demanding industries. In the case of Posedla’s 3D-printed saddles, AMT PostPro’s Vapor Smoothing Technology was the best choice. The steam smoothing method (as the name implies) seals the porous surface of the saddle, enhancing its mechanical and structural properties, while giving it a finish similar to injection molding. As a result, Forward AM’s Ultrasint® TPU01 has been able to pass both contact and skin irritation tests after being subsequently treated with Vapor Smoothing. Additionally, end-use parts are tested for mechanical damage and fatigue to meet or even exceed ISO standards for bicycle saddles. Needless to say, they passed all the tests with flying colors and the saddles are now ready to use.
There are many advantages to using 3D printing as a production tool. One of them is that it allows extension Mass production of parts, which helps to meet the needs of customers, and thus achieve the set goals. The Posedla team noted that without it, “It is impossible to achieve the level of personalization we offer in our product.” As for the manufacturing process, they say they were able to reduce the production time from 10 weeks to 3 weeks, with the manufacturing plant at full capacity. In addition, there has been a significant reduction in the weight of the product, which is now less than 140 grams. Among other things, Posedla is now a much more competitive company in the bike gear market thanks to its improved and improved saddles.
Both AMT and Forward AM will display this end-use portion at their physical booths at Formnext in Frankfurt. If you would like to know more about this success story or the technology used to develop it, please visit the AMT website over here.
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* Cover photo credits: Posedla