Metal Additive Manufacturing Assists Olympic Cyclists in Rio

Custom handlebars made with selective laser melting helped a team of cyclists from France earn a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.


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For cyclists at the top of their sport, having the right equipment matters nearly as much as physical conditioning. With its ability to provide strong yet lightweight parts, additive manufacturing has proven to be a valuable tool for building bike parts. A UK cyclist broke records riding with 3D-printed handlebars earlier this year, and we’ve reported on uses of AM for bicycling here and here.

A group of French cyclists competing in this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil were some of the most recent athletes to experiment with additively manufactured bike parts. Erpro & Sprint, a digital manufacturer based in France, partnered with the French Cycling Federation and GIE S2A to develop custom 3D-printed handlebars for each of the seven athletes to use in Rio.

The handlebars were designed by GIE S2A to be aerodynamic and ergonomic. Built from lightweight aluminum, the handlebars have an internal lattice structure to further reduce their weight while maintaining strength.

Erpro & Sprint produced the handlebars on an SLM 280HL metal 3D printer from SLM Solutions. The printer uses selective laser melting (SLM) to precisely melt metal powder using one or two fiber lasers. Watch them being made in the video below:


Video courtesy of Erpro & Sprint.

French cyclist Thomas Boudat debuted the 3D-printed handlebars at a race in Italy earlier this year, taking first place. The French men’s team sprint cyclists went on to win the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Rio using the AM handlebars.

GIE S2A will bring the handlebars to the consumer market in late September as the JetOne range.