Additive manufacturing is emerging as enabling technology in a number of sporting goods applications. A leading example is in cycling and proud to have played a pivot role in this via our collaboration with Robot Bike Co.
Robot Bike Co, in collaboration with HiETA, Altair, and Renishaw, unveiled the R160 enduro mountain bike frame on Thursday 26th May 2016.
Marking a milestone in collaborative additive manufacturing/3D printing technology, Robot Bike represents a giant leap towards the goal of AM mass customisation.
Breaking the Mould
Unprecedented design freedom has been achieved through the development of a unique construction using titanium lugs, proprietary carbon fibre tubing and a double lap shear joint bonding concept. Through the experience of the partner companies, each frame can be tailored to a customer’s individual measurements and riding preferences, with the added benefit that the frame can be constantly improved as new technologies emerge, as the production process is not constrained by conventional manufacturing methods, with expensive moulds and tooling. The new frame concept was developed by the Robot Bike Co. which was founded in 2013 by HiETA’s Ben Farmer and Andy Hawkins, with Ed Haythornthwaite and Ben Robarts-Arnold. Robot Bike Co has a clear mission: to exceed known limits and make the best mountain bike frames possible. Each of the partners are leaders in their own technology fields and the frame design and engineering are therefore grounded in years of experience in demanding sectors such as aerospace, automotive and F1.
The suspension design has been developed and tailored for Robot Bike Co. by Dave Weagle, one of the world’s foremost suspension designers, with an awesome track record in developing original and class-leading suspension designs for mountain bikes. Mike Adams, CEO of HiETA Technologies, reflects on the achievement: “One of the great aspirations of additive manufacturing has always been “mass customisation”. Leading this project has allowed us to see integration of all the elements – a great new frame design, the use of state of the art software tools for optimisation and automation, the flexibility of the manufacturing process itself and effective collaboration between our partners is a great advert for the technologies and the South West of England showcasing that the aspiration is becoming a reality.”
The Savile Row of the bike world
“It doesn’t matter how good a frame is if it doesn’t fit the rider, and this is where Robot Bike Co. sees the weakness in the current market offerings”, says RBC’s Ed Haythornthwaite, “If you’re trying to produce the very best frame it makes no sense to then only offer it in a small number of sizes when the people you are selling it to come in all shapes and sizes. Think of Robot Bike Co. as the ‘Savile Row’ of the bike world.”