Case: TITANIUM COMPONENT RUNNING 3D PRINTED ARTISAN E-BIKES
In the northern parts of Sweden sits the headquarters of Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, complete with an additive manufacturing center housing just about every relevant piece of equipment available today. Having just released their state-of-the-art titanium powder plant, Sandvik Additive Manufacturing stepped onto the titanium powder market with a product that serves up material properties essential to several industries; some more evident than others. This is the story of how titanium is revolutionizing artisan e-bikes.
GSD Global is an engineering- and design consultancy company with long-standing experience from creating premium e-bikes. As with any artform, high-end bicycles are typically handcrafted to satisfy the specific palate of a target group consisting of true bike connoisseurs. Zachary Krapfl, Electric Vehicle Engineer and consultant at GSD Global, explains: “Handmade bikes is the type of product that goes straight to your heart – they are pieces of art to begin with. So, if we can provide these high-end bicycle makers with a material that can make their bikes last 10-20 years – that’s a game-changer to them”.
If we can provide bicycle makers with a material that can make their bikes last 10-20 years – that’s a game-changer
GSD Global work toward various bicycle OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers), with a majority of their design work focusing on e-bikes. For close to a decade, they’ve been partnering with Bosch e-bike systems. Together, they’ve participated at several North American bike shows, and testify that up until recently, there’s been very few e-bikes present on the scene. Part of the explanation is thought to be that the titanium parts that, for example, constitute the motor node that holds the electric motor onto the bike frame, are very difficult to machine using processes such as CNC – and costly at that. So, when GSD Global started to investigate the possibility of 3D printing their titanium components, they were glad to find that through developing the design of the motor nodes and adapting them to be additively manufactured, they could actually reduce their costs with up to 75%. This is when the company realized they were on to something that wouldn’t just prove to be financially feasible – but enable substantial improvement in terms of quality as well.
We really wanted to add the material advantages of titanium to our high-end electrical propulsion systems for e-bikes
A lighter, more cost-efficient, and quicker to manufacture frame & motor bracket
Titanium alloy, Ti6Al4V
Powder Bed Fusion Laser
Heat treatment and sand blasting
“We really wanted to add the material advantages of titanium to our high-end electrical propulsion systems for e-bikes”, Zachary Krapfl says before continuing to explain a few of the advantages he identifies within the material properties of titanium - such as it being extremely fatigue resistant and able to provide lightness and longevity at that. By providing their OE’s with titanium motor nodes, 3D printed by Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, GSD Global can enable them creating the ideal e-bike that will not only cost less and thereby be increasingly sellable, but also last a whole lot longer. Having started with the motor nodes, referred to by Zachary Krapfl as one of the hardest parts to manufacture, there’s nowhere to go but up. “We’re so excited to share this with lots of brands, and to start adding more and more additive parts in the future”, Zachary continues before concluding; “I can’t wait to see all of the new metal powders from Sandvik Additive Manufacturing in the future!”.