Manufacturing guy-at-large.


Added on by Spencer Wright.

After more than a year and a half of research, modeling, procurement, site visits, redesigns, and batches of failed parts, I've finally got a functional, 3D printed, titanium seatmast topper.

Yesterday morning Clay and I took it for a 20 mile ride, and aside from some cosmetic issues (he *really* needs a ti stem now...) it worked well. We'll road-test it a bunch more over the next few weeks.

I'll go into detail in a long post soon, but the short story is this. This part was built by Layerwise, a Belgian startup that was acquired by 3D Systems last year. While Layerwise has a bunch of IP (software + hardware) that allows them to tune the process parameters, the main difference between this part and my earlier prototypes is the build orientation - and some clever use of temporary structures and supports. This part was also shot peened, which (along with the orientation change) improves the surface finish noticeably.

I'm expecting another copy of this part in the next week or two; it will go to be destructively tested in Germany. It's only slightly different than this one: Layerwise is adding some additional supports in the the seatmast clamp window, which will help it from distorting slightly during the build process.

Once the part is destructively tested, I'll get a better idea of the areas where I can remove material in order to make the part lighter. I've been wanting to redesign the part for a while - partly to reduce the need for support structures, and partly for aesthetics. The most likely path for both of these is to introduce a number of lattices, which will likely be lighter, be easier to build, require less post processing, and be more visually compelling and distinctive. I've got a few thoughts on what this should look like, but will also be working with some software & design companies who have more experience with lattices.

Having a working (albeit imperfect) part in hand is a really validating step. I'm *really* looking forward to more of these - and to critically evaluating their performance.