Danish cycling company CeramicSpeed and a team from the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) have partnered to develop a new, higher performing pulley wheel made using SLM Solutions’ additive manufacturing technology. The part meets the demanding requirements of professional cycling with its lightweight and durability.
Performance in professional cycling is influenced by many of the same factors as in other transport and mobility sectors, such as aerodynamics and minimized equipment weight. CeramicSpeed has been at the forefront of pioneering new and innovative cycling equipment which meet these two requirements. Within the cycling world, it is perhaps best known for its ceramic bearings.
To continue developing new components for improved cycling, the Danish company teamed up with DTI to leverage its expertise in the selective laser melting process. DTI, which operates a quad-laser SLM 500 and twin-laser SLM 280, played a critical role in developing the 3D printed pulley wheels for CeramicSpeed.
3D printed from titanium, the pulley wheels were developed for race-condition testing for professional riders at this year’s Tour de France, the famous nation-wide bike race that spans 3,460 km. The pulleys, 3D printed using the SLM 500 system, are characterized by their 17 spokes and have a diameter of 2 mm and wall thicknesses of only 0.4 mm.
“3D printing technology has given us a lot of leeway to experiment creatively with design, while at the same time being able to optimize a product’s function,” said Carsten Ebbesen, R&D Manager at CeramicSpeed. “The collaboration with DTI has led us to develop and produce gears in a radically new design form that is only possible with 3D printing.”
The 3D printed pulley wheel is remarkably lightweight thanks to the integration of a hollow interior structure. According to SLM Solutions, the sprocket weighs just 8.4 grams. The part, which is installed on the outer gears in the gearshift, has also undergone extensive testing, proving its quality and strength. In fact, tests showed that the titanium component was actually more durable in terms of corrosion resistance and strength at low density than traditional aluminum pulley wheels.
As Thor Bramsen, Industrialization Manager at DTI, explained: “The hollow geometry of the objects cannot be produced with conventional methods, and the 3D printing in combination with subsequent specialized processes leads to a unique innovative product.”
More than just developing the 3D printed titanium pulley wheel, CeramicSpeed and DTI had to ensure the entire process chain was coordinated in order to attain reliable, high quality serial production. In order to achieve this, the partners worked closely to optimize the component for AM series production without altering the original part design significantly. DTI also leveraged its extensive manufacturing expertise to establish efficient post-processing steps for the part.