Metal Additive Manufacturing Goes for Gold at Rio Olympics

August 24, 2016 - 06:15am

SLM Solutions played its part helping athletes strive for gold at the Rio Olympics by providing selective laser melting metal additive manufacturing technology to help bicyclists improve their equipment. SLM Solutions customer Erpro & Sprint is a leading company in the field of digital manufacturing in France, offering a range of 3D printing services at its facility just north of Paris. Erpro & Sprint partnered with the French Cycling Federation and GIE S2A in the development of custom handlebars for seven athletes who competed in Brazil that were produced on the SLM 280HL metal 3D printer.

The success of the handlebars lies in their innovative designs created by GIE S2A, combining aerospace and automotive processes, according to Marc Pajon, former CEO of the GIE, an aeroacoustic wind tunnel facility in Montigny Le Bretonneux near Paris. With the JetOne range, GIE S2A further innovated by designing aerodynamic and ergonomic handlebars with outstanding performance for appointment to the international cycling track of the French team. GIE S2A entrusted the implementation of these 3D printing handlebars Erpro & Sprint for the competitions in Rio. Taking advantage of the design possibilities additive manufacturing affords the handlebars were created to incorporate an interior lattice structure, providing strength yet minimizing the weight. Additional weight savings were realized through the lightweight material choice, as the handlebars were printed in aluminum on the SLM 280HL system.

Cyril Vue, CEO of Erpro & Sprint commented on the project saying, “Additive manufacturing technology premiered at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games alongside the French Team. To support the cyclists, Erpro & Sprint manufactured seven fully 3D printed handlebars.” The handlebars were victorious in their debut race in Italy earlier this year when French cyclist Thomas Boudat took first place riding with the new equipment. Leading up to the Olympics, athletes were optimistic about the competitive advantage the 3D printed handlebars could bring – Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins of the United Kingdom had broken records riding with 3D printed handle bars just a few months earlier.

With the largest build chamber in its segment at 280x280x350mm, the SLM 280HL offers high throughput technology with multiple laser configurations and a patented bi-directional recoating. Integrated SLM Build Processor and open software architecture offers the freedom of controlling system parameters to optimize for unique requirements, such as Olympic handlebars. Individual developments on the SLM 280 HL can be transferred for the production of other machines in the SLM series, such as the larger SLM 500HL. Erpro & Sprint became the first French facility to purchase the quad laser SLM 500HL metal additive manufacturing system earlier this year to increase their manufacturing capabilities.

The S2A will bring the JetOne range of handlebars to the consumer market in late September. With 3D printed shoes for sprinters and handlebars on the track this year, it appears that additive technologies will have their eyes set gold for Toyko 2020.


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