As any athlete knows, the right equipment is crucial for performance. That’s why Italian start-up NiRi aims to bring sports equipment to a higher level with innovative technologies such as Additive Manufacturing. One of their first projects is the creation of a new shock-absorbing bike handle grip which uses intricate texturing to give cyclists a better grip and decrease vibration in the handlebars – and as a result, give the cyclist better control over their bicycle.
NiRi knew from the start that they wanted to use 3D Printing due to its inherent design freedom, which allowed them to design a complex haptic surface and lightweight interior structure. But the question soon enough became: which 3D printing technology? Although only in the prototyping stage, they needed something sturdy, functional and heat-resistant. Grips are typically made out of a rigid plastic tube, which is then over-molded using a softer material. Not all prototyping plastics could withstand warping or deformation at the temperatures required for the over-molding process.
But the newest addition to our family of 3D printing technologies proved to be an attractive alternative. Parts produced with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology have a high heat deflection temperature, as well as good surface detail perfect for the intricate texture necessary to make the bike grips.
Andrea Ricci, NiRi co-founder, says, “The introduction of this new technology helped us solve many problems about the design and the feel of the product. We got the opportunity to put the first product in a prototyping program where you print a small number of products – the flexibility was very useful for us to get up and running in a short time. Our grips are already on the market, with this initial small series produced with MJF, and we aim to enter final production next year.”
NiRi printed the first few iterations of their bicycle grips with us to perfect the design of their product. Each new design variation went from our engineers to the MJF printers, using the Materialise Magics 3D Print Suite to make each file printable, including the elimination of design flaws and slicing the file with our Build Processor to a more manageable size. Finally the pieces were printed, cleaned and finished by our production staff, and shipped off to Italy. There, NiRi assembled and completed the grips, including an over-molding process using a PU material.
NiRi now has a functional demo model which they can use to test in the market and show to potential customers – and it cost them much less to make than if they had used traditional injection molding.