Giant has reportedly begun using 3D printing to both prototype and produce saddles, according to pddnet.com
Following on from industry pioneer Charge, which have printed dropouts for selected frames, Giant has been prototyping with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). Using a bed of powdered nylon, the lasers precision melt the mold layer by layer until a solid sample sits among the waste powder.
“We’ve found that the Nylon powder used with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) mimics the base of the bike saddle,” said Daniel Lentz, lead industrial designer of components at Giant.
“That’s the beauty of ordering SLS parts; they simulate the final product. We modify the model, print, and take the SLS prototypes out for a ride, allowing us to feel and test the final product before actually having the final product.”
The finished sample is said to feel much like a production unit, allowing the engineers to micro adjust and reach production in fewer samples, or at least quicker, than may previously have been possible. The process is also more cost effective than traditional methods.
“With every new iteration of saddle prototype that we create, we include shape adjustments to both the base and foam that we test extensively. These adjustments can be as subtle as intricate form adjustments and slight foam thickness variations and we may go through a number of different prototypes with any new design,” explained Lentz.
Read the full story and see sample images on pddnet.com.