Giant 3D Prints Bicycle Saddles, Molds Our Future

Giant 3D printed bicycle saddlesPDDnet.com is reporting that Giant Bicycles has started using 3D printing for bicycle saddles, and it’s not just for prototyping – the process is becoming part of their production process, too!

Using two different processes, they’re able to quickly create rideable prototypes to test many variations and then take the exact shapes into production. First, they’re using SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) to turn nylon powder into the saddle shells. The result is virtually identical to the shells of production saddles, so Giant knows essentially what the final product will feel like throughout testing.

Then, they use SLA (another process that UV laserifies a resin into a solid) to create molds for the shells and padding that would be used in production. Compared to traditional tooling and molds, this process is far cheaper and faster. Check the full article with comments from Giant’s lead industrial designer Daniel Lentz here.

We’re thinking it can’t be long before someone uses 3D metal printing similar to Charge Bikes’ dropouts to test rail shapes.

Update: The saddles were printed by ZOOMRP, in case you’re wondering.

Comments

Carl Spackler - 11/15/13 - 10:23am

This isn’t unique. Welcome to the game, Giant.

MasCam - 11/15/13 - 2:13pm

I wonder if in 10 years time there will be custom printed saddles at retailers to suit individual body shapes.

its an interesting thought, now where are those patent application forms!!!

Der_kruscher - 11/15/13 - 3:04pm

@MasCam – I’m sure that there’s already plenty of folks on this already an that it will be a much shorter wait than 10 years. I was just thinking the same thing though. The fear of having your favorite saddle go out of production may also be a thing of the past – it would be nice not to hoard them. I assume that the capability will also be there to scan an old, worn-in saddle that fits just right and reproduce it? I don’t know but there are certainly plenty of cool applications for 3-D printing.

Daniel Lentz - 11/19/13 - 9:24pm

Hi, this is Daniel Lentz, the Industrial Designer mentioned in the article. While 3D printing custom saddles is a fantastic idea that would allow for infinite possibilities for custom fit, I regret to have to clarify that Giant is not using 3D printing for our saddle production.

At this point in time, we use multiple 3D printing technologies and processes to create prototypes that mimic the final products as close as possible so that they can be tested before production.

Sorry for the mix-up and we’re working to have the original article corrected as it was a little misleading…

Thanks!

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