EOS Additive Manufacturing for the sport industry
Sporting success through additive manufacturing: EOS Additive Manufacturing allows product innovations to be implemented in the sport industry, thus offering athletes high-performance sports equipment.
Sporting performance not only depends on athletes’ mental and physical constitution. Equipment is a decisive factor in many disciplines too. High-tech materials and specialized equipment tailor-made to athletes’ requirements lead to success.
To remain competitive, the development departments of the sports equipment industry deviate from series products. They come closer to their objective of optimizing the system “athlete and equipment” with new ideas for product improvements.
These ideas are turned into product innovations through the use of production technologies such as additive manufacturing. This results in the production of robust lightweight versions of complex sports equipment, for example, which would not be able to be produced using conventional production technology.
For athletes, this mainly means one thing: a competitive lead in the fight for medals and podium places.
EOS Additive Manufacturing technology – Sport industry best-practice examples
Lifestyle Products: Kappius Components – Design and manufacturing of highly complex bike hubs with EOS additive technology
Kappius Components uses Additive Manufacturing for trailblazing bike hub/drive assembly
To American inventors, the “home garage” has always been a symbol of possibility – a place for tinkerers to create and innovate. More than a century ago, the Wright brothers founded a cycle sales and repair business from a modest storefront and soon after invented a bike hub that was self-oiling. Everyone knows what they did next in the field of aviation. Harley Davidson’s motorized bikes were born in a backyard shed. HP’s Hewlett and Packard and Apple’s Jobs and Wozniak helped define the modern computer age from their suburban start-up shops. And garage-based entrepreneurs are still at it in the 21st century. About four years ago, Russ Kappius – mountain-bike enthusiast, winner of six Masters racing titles, and a research geophysicist/software developer – worked out a design for a novel oversized hub and high-performance drive assembly that transfers more power from pedal to chain to wheel.
First of all, Russ Kappius and his son Brady – engineer and pro mountain-bike rider – tried technologies like water-jet cutting and wire electrical discharge machining (WEDM) to tweak the design of their hubs step by step. However, either the process was limited in its capacity to produce dimensionally accurate and complex parts or the produced parts did not meet the required specifications and had a fairly long turnaround time. In late 2011 they discovered Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). This Additive Manufacturing technology met their rapid turnaround needs and enabled them to produce parts to exacting specifications and with additional design complexity.
The beauty of the lightweight-yet-durable hub comes from the handmade sleek carbon-fiber shell, as well as the drive assembly housed inside it. The assembly is comprised of three major parts: an outer drive ring, an inner ring with 60 teeth, and eight pawls, which engage in pairs with the teeth on the inner ring. This setup functions like a ratchet allowing forward motion while preventing backward motion.
The technological advance in the system comes from two developments: the oversized design – it’s about twice the current standard diameter – and many more points of engagement. While the most standard drive trains have 18 to 36 points of engagement, the Kappius hub is built around a drivetrain with 240 points of engagement. So the pedal can engage every one-and-a-half degrees and give the rider an extra quarter- or half-pedal stroke. These features allow a cyclist to translate the act of pedaling into increased drive force which is great for racing and highly technical riding. “Our drive assembly is a critical innovation,” explains Kappius.
With DMLS Russ Kappius was able to redesign the pawl itself and add a 1-mm cylindrical basal extension. This positioned them better when they engaged. The Additive Manufacturing technology “grows” parts, according to a 3D digital model, layer by layer in a bed of powder. A focussed laser beam fuses the powder by following the contours and inside area of the part’s cross-sectional slice. Once one layer has been completed, the powder bed is lowered by a few micrometres and the process begins again. Following the run, the parts are removed from the machine. On a CNC mill, the manufacturing support structures are removed and an extra 20-thousandths of material from the back side of the part is planed down. This creates a machined finish. Afterwards, the components are moved to a kiln and hardened to a value of 52 Rockwell C. DMLS provider Harbec, located in Ontario, New York, USA, provides the manufacturing and finishing work. The final assembly is done by the father-son team in their home shop.
For two years, Russ and Brady Kappius field-tested additive manufactured versions of their hub and tweaked its design. In the first week of field testing, the elder Kappius won a race using the latest hub assembly. “We went from concept to bike-ready components in about a month,” enthuses the sportsman. “I’ve never been able to move that quickly before.“
Kappius Components’ hubs have been through several design iterations. The move to Additive Manufacturing has accelerated the speed of improvements. “DMLS has freed us up to make improvements on all of the elements in the system,” says the elder Kappius enthusiastically. In addition, the technology has also helped level the playing field between the two-person company and the bigger players in the bicycle industry. “Because we’re a start-up, we quickly learned that we needed to make design changes and get new parts out to our customers fast,” remembers Russ Kappius. “We had to leverage our time to market to stay competitive.”
A typical order of ten drivetrain assemblies requires two builds on an EOSINT M 270. With the help of software the components can be arranged on the machine’s build platform to maximize output: ten outer rings, ten inner rings, and 80 pawls (eight for each assembly), plus a few extras. Run time is around 25 hrs. per plate, or 50 hrs. total for ten assemblies. Production is accelerating fast for the young company. In 2012 they sold about 100 hub assemblies and are projecting sales of 500 in 2014. The hub is shipped out to early-adopter cyclists around the world.
Since durability was of prime importance for the application, Kappius selected maraging steel from the available materials. The heat-treatable metal is characterized by excellent hardness and strength properties. Russ Kappius is pleased with the results. “The tool steel is super strong,” he says. “I haven’t had a single hub failure. Even the big manufacturers can’t say that.”
Last but not least the bike-hub creator summarizes the benefits of DMLS: “The essential asset is design freedom. Number two is the material strength closely followed by the lead time.” And then there’s also the rider experience. “People just love the hub,” says Russ Kappius. “They’re faster and fun to ride.”
“As a software engineer, I am able to change anything at any time to make the code better. With DMLS, I have similar flexibility. It allows me to make small design changes and almost immediately test them on the bike. That’s the beauty of the technology.” “DMLS has freed us up to make improvements on all of the elements in the system. Our drive assembly is a critical innovation.” Russ Kappius, inventor and founder of Kappius Components
Kappius Components manufactures and distributes innovative hubs and bicycle components. The company is based in Littleton, Colorado (USA) and was founded by inventor Russell Kappius.
Harbec’s mission is to provide tightly toleranced prototypes, tooling, machined components and quality injection molded parts in a sustainable manner with a social conscience.
Lifestyle Products: RaceWare Direct – Profitable production of durable plastic and metal bicycle accessorie with EOS 3D Printing
Customized equipment for racing bikes – speedy production with low investment costs
Sporty Business Start-up Exploits Additive Manufacturing
Martyn Harris has been a keen cyclist since he was 14 and represented Team GB in 2011, when he won the Track Cycling Masters World Championship in the scratch race in the age category 35 to 39. In career terms he is an expert in Additive Manufacturing havin
g been employed at 3T RPD in Newbury since 2000. 3T has EOS machines which are used to build prototypes and fully functional components from plastic and metal powders, directly from CAD models. But even in his professional life Harris’ love of cycling is never far away. In order to combine this passion with his technical knowledge, he founded his company RaceWare Direct in 2012. The company’s product range now includes customized plastic brackets for mounting instruments onto racing bikes and titanium components like chain catchers and handlebar stems.
The creative impetus for the company came from Harris’ futile attempt to buy a mount to secure a computerized power meter safely and neatly to his racing bike handle bars. Harris remembers, “All I could find was a horrible adaptor kit, which included cable ties to lash up the instrument to the bars, so I thought I would make my own mount using the EOS Additive Manufacturing machines at work. Ian Halliday, the CEO at 3T RPD, was very supportive of my venture and still is.” Via the internet, Harris quickly discovered that a lot of other people were looking for ways to mount power meters, global positioning systems (GPS), cameras and other instruments to their bikes, without using the manufacturers’ clunky bracketry. The interest came not just from the Time Trials racing community, but also from road cyclists as well as leisure cyclists.
One of Harris’ contacts was cycling enthusiast Jason Swann, who sent Harris a CAD file of his ideal mount for a Garmin Edge GPS. Based on this data, Harris built his first mount. It took just four months to progress from the initial design idea to the wide range of products that RaceWare Direct now sells online for mounting Garmin and other hardware onto road drop handlebars and aero extensions. The company caters for every possible bar size and stem width combination to allow perfect central positioning of the GPS devices. The mounts are vibro finished and then, if the end user doesn’t want the raw white of EOS PA2200 nylon material, the parts can be applied with one of eight standard colours or four neon colours.Martyn rides for the Banjo Cycles Racing Team, which undertook a six-hour mountain bike endurance challenge using the Garmin mounts to test them under extreme conditions. They were found to be extremely stable, with minimal vibration and movement throughout the challenge.
The variety of Garmin mounts manufactured means that batch sizes are small, from 10-off to the low thousands. It would not be cost-effective to produce them by means of injection moulding, as the tooling would be prohibitively expensive. These investments are not required if parts are manufactured layer-by-layer directly out of nylon powder with the help of the EOS technology. It furthermore it speeds progress from the drawing stage, through refining the design in CAD and 3D printing prototypes, to production of the finished articles. “People find it difficult to understand how we produce new mounts so rapidly. They ask about lead-time and I reply ‘two to three weeks’, whereas they are used to hearing six months to a year,” explains Harris.” The EOS technology allows us to respond very quickly. For example, in a matter of days, I produced two bespoke Garmin 500 mounts with lettering down the side saying ‘Reading GP 2013′ – one each for the winner of the men’s and ladies’ races at a meeting in July.” Although RaceWare Direct has been in existence for just 18 months, nearly 6,000 products have already been produced in EOS systems at 3T RPD. The leading additive manufacturer throughout the UK and Europe, 3T runs six machines for plastic and seven for metal. Martyn Harris said that he likes their reliable and consistent performance, which allows high quality parts to be produced. This is important for RaceWare Direct, as in addition to selling its products in almost every country, it supplies numerous elite UK and international cycling teams, all of which demand top quality products. Many of the most famous cyclists in the world, including those competing in this year’s Tour de France, have RaceWare Direct products on their bikes.
“This is an outstanding example of how Additive Manufacturing can be the ideal enabling technology for starting a new business. Martyn subcontracts his manufacturing to a subcontracting manufacturer, meaning that investment costs in EOS machines can be saved.” The fact that there are no up-front tooling costs and the ability to refine designs along the way, supports a low cost, innovative culture that means that products get to the market very quickly. The business model is perfect for a high technology company start-up, as it can leverage an entrepreneur’s specialist knowledge, expertise and passion with minimal financial risk. Stuart Jackson, Regional Manager at EOS Ltd, the UK & Eire subsidiary based in Warwick.
“I appreciate the reliable high and reproducible quality of the parts produced by EOS systems. With them I can satisfy my customers from all over the world as well as well-known athletes. Due to the fact that no tools are needed, no additional costs for the production of customized parts occur.”Martyn Harris, Founder of RaceWare Direct
„RaceWare Direct represents a fascinating development for 3T and EOS. The company and its products utilize a broad range of Additive Manufacturing’s benefits – iterative design, series production, rapid turnaround, etc. RaceWare Direct demonstrates an exciting business model which has tremendous scope for future development and success.“
Ian Halliday, CEO at 3T RPD
RaceWare Direct specializes in the manufacture of equipment for racing bikes made of metal and plastic by using Additive Manufacturing. The company is located in Newbury (UK) and was founded by Martyn Harris.
3T RPD Ltd was established in 1999 and has become a leading additive manufacturer throughout the UK and Europe.