Bay of Plenty-based 3D metals printing experts Rapid Advanced Manufacturing (RAM) has scored a coup by producing the titanium handlebar extensions for Cycling New Zealand's revolutionary new Olympic cycles.
Cycling New Zealand worked with High Performance Sport NZ, manufacturers Avanti, wheelwrights Southern Spars, aerodynamic experts Kinetic Simulation, and Auckland University's wind tunnel, to produce track bikes they hope will deliver gold at Rio.
Bicycle design engineer David Higgins led the project for Sheppard Industries, which markets the Avanti brand. RAM was brought in with its 3D metals titanium printing expertise to produce the forward projecting handlebar extensions. The rest of the handlebars are made from carbon fibre.
"All of the cyclists took part in wind tunnel testing so that each set of bars is customised for each individual rider," said RAM managing director Warwick Downing.
"They put each rider in the tunnel and worked out their ideal riding position, then the bars are custom-designed to make them automatically go into that position. Every set of bars is different."
RAM takes the design files and worked with Cycling NZ to print out the titanium extension bars, which also included mounting brackets. RAM is the commercial arm of research organisation TiDA (Titanium Industry Development Association), which has pioneered 3D metals printing and has the only cluster of the hi-tech printers in New Zealand.
Bicycle engineer David Higgins told the New Zealand Herald the key thing for the sprint bike was reducing aerodynamic drag - eventually cut by more than 15 per cent - and lightening the bikes' weight.
This is not RAM's first venture into cycles. The company has been working with Australian company Bastion Cycles.