The team at ShareRoller, a New York City-based startup, has a mission—to transform the electric micro-mobility sector by decoupling the powertrain from the platform. The engineers developed a product called “OneMotor,” which allows bicycle owners to convert their standard push-pedal models to electric bikes. This OneMotor power system can also add electric power to kick-scooters, and bikes offered by local bike-share systems, all interchangeable within seconds.
“One of the challenges of this emerging industry (electric bicycles) is that a lot of these electric bikes aren’t really like bikes anymore,” said Jeff Guida, President and CEO of ShareRoller. “People don’t necessarily want to give up the way they ride and what they ride, but they do want to find a way to get electric assistance.”
Since its founding in 2014, most of ShareRoller’s distribution has been direct to consumers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
OneMotor’s automatic system—which consists of a battery pack, a motor module, a wireless throttle controller, and a wireless pedal sensor that detects when a rider is pedaling—takes a century-old power transmission technology (friction-drive) and transforms it for the modern age using an Automatic Traction Control System, which continuously adjusts the pressure of the drive motor on the tire in response to sensed slippage, optimizing performance on all kinds of roads and weather conditions.
Overall, the system contains more than 100 parts and nearly 50 unique plastic parts including functional and enclosure components.
As a startup, Guida and his team outsourced part production but faced challenges with part strength, surface quality, and durability, and their parts degraded quickly. Outsourcing also left them with long lead times and minimum order requirements, which made it difficult for them to iterate and prototype.
“We’re working to add our system to as many existing platforms as possible, and each of those platforms is slightly different,” Guida said. “We also build a lot of custom mounts for specific bike platforms that are not suitable for a universal mount.”
OneMotor requires detailed parts in small quantities. Upon researching 3D printing technologies that would satisfy these requirements, ShareRoller discovered the HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 580. By bringing the 3D printer in-house, ShareRoller engineers produced a variety of high-strength standard parts along with mass-customization options, all without investing in tooling. In addition, the multi-color capabilities of the color 3D Printer let them offer both standard and custom color options too.
While working with the printer, the engineering team noticed that the quality of their parts improved immediately.
“Quality is absolutely critical,” Guida said. “You’re attaching a motor to a wheel and applying as much as 1 hp to that wheel. You’re riding over bumps, potholes, and everything is put through stress and shock, and so the strength and durability of those 3D printed parts is paramount.”
ShareRoller also uses the HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer to print end-use capable parts in color and add multiple colors to the same part. Some of their parts require regulatory labeling, which in the past involved stickers, but with HP Multi Jet Fusion, ShareRoller can print text directly onto the part.
Since bringing HP Multi Jet Fusion technology into the facilities, the engineers have been using it for both prototyping and production. According to Guida, traditional production methods like injection molding were “cost-prohibitive and then the design limitations were equally as prohibitive, so I think 3D printing for small startups has a unique component in its value proposition that it makes it a lot easier to bring a product to market with a very limited capital budget.”
With the printer, the engineers were also able to condense their production process into fewer steps which, as a small manufacturing startup, can be vital in terms of cost efficiency.
“Not only does the printer relieve you of upfront tooling costs, it also frees up your design tremendously so you’re able to do things without restraints, and the turnaround times are night-and-day better.”