SRAM radically rethinks cranks with specialized software and 3D printing
SRAM worked with Autodesk software, generative design and additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to produce prototypes of titanium cranks that would be twice as strong and 20% lighter than those that use traditional techniques.
Generative design algorithms explore many design solutions, working towards defined goals while taking into account given constraints. Autodesk posted a video online, reported by Forbes, that explains what is going on here.
“We started this project with Autodesk as a leader in generative design technology so that we can combine this with what we understand about bicycle design and seek to optimize our crank designs,” says Will King, design engineer. senior at SRAM.
“We chose the crank arm for this generative design project because it is a large structural element.
“From the digital idea to the physical element, additive manufacturing [also known as 3D printing] can help you get there faster, allows us to bring the idea into the physical space to evaluate, test, pilot, and then go back and decide what elements of the design we want to incorporate into our transmission of production.
“For SRAM, the end goal is to provide cycling components that inspire the rider and make the bike faster and the generative design is a tool that allows us to not only optimize performance parameters for the rider, but also to shorten our development time to try new ideas, evaluate them, throw them away or give them more credit and take them to the prototype phase. Then we are able to deliver these new ideas faster to the end user.
“At SRAM, we are an innovative company and, as we seek to inspire the consumer with our components, we want to continue to add innovation and improve that riding experience, and generative design helps us achieve that line. arrival faster.
Obviously, Autodesk wants to promote the benefits of using its software, but you get the idea that SRAM is enthusiastically embracing new technology as a way to improve the products it can bring to consumers.
Sean Manzanares of Autodesk says, “What we do is use artificial intelligence as well as the power of supercomputing, which allows you to come up with dozens or hundreds of different designs that no human can. could ever think of, and you get them. a fraction of the time.
“We took [SRAM’s] cranked up for inspiration, and we use our design exploration software called Generative Design inside Fusion 360 [software]. You have to bring new design tools to think outside of the box and do things differently. You will use innovation as a key to introduce new ways of creating and manufacturing your products. “
SRAM has created working prototypes. The truss / beam structure looks super cool but also like it acts as a mud trap. Keep in mind, however, that a skin form on a production version could easily stop this.
There are, of course, plenty of hollow cranks on the market designed to save weight, and many manufacturers mill their cranks to remove unnecessary material, but SRAM prototypes seem to take that to a whole new level. We have no weight for them.
The video focuses on mountain biking. Aerodynamics would be an additional consideration in the road world although, again, a skin would likely heal things up there.
We’ve reached out to SRAM for further comment, asking if we’re likely to see these cranks in the real world anytime soon or if they’re unlikely to progress beyond the prototype stage.