Pinarello Bolide TT is the first time trial bike that used large 3D Printed metal parts. More than one titanium handlebar was manufactured using the latest technology and Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Landa and Sergio Henao are using them.
Its innovative shape, which combines a minimal aero drag with a perfect fit based on rider’s aero position, could only be manufactured, in the given time, using innovative technology such as 3D printing. In particular, the handlebar was manufactured with Powder Bed Fusion technology, where titanium powder is locally melted in a layer-by-layer fashion to create the final product.
3D printing - processes and technologies
3D printing can be considered as a relatively new technology, since everything begun during the 80s. At the same time its capabilities and use are in continuous growth in almost every field of the human life, such as the industrial manufacturing or the medical use. The reasons of this great expansion are related to the innumerable advantages that this technology has, such as:
- design complex components without adding cost
- surpass limitations of conventional technologies
- change designs without hassle
- skip investment in manufacturing tools
- shorten time to market
In addition, the term “3D printing” groups many technologies, different one each other for properties,
materials, quality, cost, etc. This characteristic allows finding the best solution for every single application.
As already done for the Bolide HR handlebars for Bradley Wiggins and Elia Viviani and for the special time trial extensions for Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas we user powder bed technology to manufacture this new handlebar.
Powder Bed Technology
With the support of CFD and FEA analysis, we designed a very innovative and particular shape that would have been very expensive and require long lead times if produced with standard technologies such as CNC or carbon moulding. The material chosen is the titanium, which combines the desirable characteristics of lightness and stiffness. All the previous considerations suggested 3D printing, and in particular Powder Bed Technology, as a valid technology that allows the production of particular shape in relative short time and reasonable costs.
There are two main variations of the Powder Bed Technology: Selective Laser Melting and Electron Beam Melting.
Both manufacturing methods produce fully dense metal parts directly from metal powder with characteristics very close to these of the target material. The machine reads data from a 3D CAD model and lays down successive layers of powdered material. These layers are melted together using a computer controlled beam. In this way, the parts are build up layer by layer. The process takes place under inert atmosphere (Nitrogen, or Helium) or vacuum, which makes it suited to manufacture parts in reactive materials with a high affinity for oxygen, e.g. titanium. Depending on the process used, many different materials can be used. Metals like steel, titanium and aluminium are commonplace today and research extends into ceramics and others.
Pinarello Bolide TT handlebar
After the foreword about 3D printing, here is the description of how the handlebar was made.
The whole designing phase leaded to the final 3D drawing of the handlebar, characterized for the minimal aero drag and the optimal position for the rider on the bike, as well as fully comply with the rules of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body.
Then, for all the reasons above explained, 3D printing was chosen as manufacturing technique. A manufacturing institute with large experience in this field was chosen as manufacturer for its high expertise and advanced facilities.
Together with their technical staff, the production details were defined. The handlebar is too big to fit in the build chamber as one piece so it had to be cut into several pieces and assembled afterwards. In general, it takes about 2 days for the machine to produce the required parts for the handlebar.
The individual parts go through a process of cleaning, joining and smoothing to produce the final bar. For the time being, these operations are done by hand. Overall, using a 3D Printing process allowed Pinarello and the components brand of it, MOST, to design, manufacture and produce a handlebar, in very short time.
Several small improvements where applied on the way. Improvements like small thickness variations in areas that were in need of reinforcement (e.g. in high stress areas), slightly modify the shape of the extensions to better fit the arms of the rider and special design to fit the electronic groupset control levers.
All products are available on sales. For more information please contact your local Pinarello/MOST dealer.
Find your local dealer at following link: http://www.mostbike.it/en/dealers