Robot Bike Company
For mountain biking enthusiasts, both comfort and performance are key components when choosing the right bike. The rider may find themselves mounting and demounting various models to find the most suitable fit for them. Yet with an advance in innovative engineering via additive manufacturing, Robot Bike Company (RBC) has created an off-road bicycle that removes the need to ‘shop around’.
The UK company, established by aerospace engineers and mountain biking fanatics, have teamed innovative design techniques with 3D print to manufacture a bike frame that is wholly customisable to the riders height, weight and specific riding preferences. The founders at RBC specified that the application of additive manufacturing technologies would not only enable them to produce “the best bike frames possible” for their customers, but aid considerably their aim to create a sophisticated mountain bike that is tailored to the individual and could be purchased
online by the public.
Together with the companies’ own knowledge surrounding the development of products and systems for the aerospace industry, RBC required industry experts through multiple partnerships to turn ideology into innovation. In partnership with Renishaw; a prominent developer of additive manufacturing machinery, HiETA Technologies; engineering solutions experts in additive manufacturing machinery, and Altair ProductDesign; whose position was to maximise the rate of flexibility that additive manufacturing renders.
Within the design process, Altair was able to produce a material efficient design to meet the performance requirements and specifications suited to the rider efficiently via solidThinking Inspire. Utilising this technology allowed for rapid transferal of pre-existing designs to a virtual platform, whereby the application of a variety of specifications that must be withstood by the bike frame when in use, could be applied. This enabled for a geometric layout that maximised the productivity of the materials construction while achieving performance targets.
In addition to Inspire, solidThinking Evolve enabled Altair ProductDesign to simplify not only the frame design itself, but the production cost. The utilisation of Evolve, together with Inspire, aided the deliverance of mass optimisation for the additively manufactured titanium frame and finalisations within the manufacturing process. This produced an overall product that achieves both an innovative and biological design solution to RBC’s initial goal, which was effectively improved for additive manufacturing, and reduced unnecessary weight and manufacturing rate.
The customisable off-road bike produced by RBC is a first within its market, using the cutting-edge design and engineering techniques made possible by additive manufacturing. The use of solidThinking by Altair ProductDesign, according to Ed Haythornthwaite; Founder of RBC, “has been a very positive experience. They have helped us create a minimum weight, maximum performance bike that really takes advantage of additive manufacturing” adding that “The team were always flexible and responsive to our design requirements as well as being extremely supportive of our start-up company”.
Haythornthwaite concluded that “Altair’s experience in designing for AM optimisation technologies, have been extremely valuable. We would not have such a lightweight and stiff bike frame without their involvement.”