Cyclists can now enjoy a quieter, maintenance-free ride with customized parts, such as sprockets, that can be made with igus’ high-performance plastics and the company’s 3D printing capabilities. igus, the German-based manufacturer of motion plastics, runs its North American operations through its facility in Providence, R.I.
Sales of electric bikes have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2017, sales rose by 25% in the United States and 34 million were sold worldwide. Manufacturers are continually looking for innovative steps to expand market share, and bikes are much lighter than previous models. Motors for e-bikes are about 25% smaller than their predecessors, with a weight of slightly less than seven pounds. The e-bikes are also much quieter, and the igus components further help cyclists since they are lubrication and maintenance free.
Lars Hartmann, an e-bike inventor, focused on reducing the noise generated by a metal sprocket. The sprocket acted as a guide for the chain so that it does not collide with the frame. The metal sprocket caused significant noise during operation, and Hartmann sought ways to reduce that noise.
3D printing produces customized solution
In search of an answer, Hartmann turned to igus’ 3D printing service. He sent the CAD data of the sprocket to igus and within a few days, received a customized solution for his project.
“The standard metal pinion generates a lot of noise when in use,’’ Hartmann said. “I drew it and had it printed by igus from iglide l3. Getting the part from igus was easy and fast. With the 3D printing service, the appropriate data could be uploaded as a STEP file, the material selected and the desired quantity ordered.”
Hartmann has used the sprockets for about two months, and he has noticed a dramatic reduction in noise in the e-bike.
Material suitable for industry or small batches
Hartmann used iglide l3 for the sprocket, which is a material suitable for industrial and small batch use. The product has good coefficients of wear and high strength and is processed by selective laser sintering (SLS). In addition, the manufactured parts can be used directly.
In the test laboratory at igus, plain bearings made from the material have been compared with common materials for selective laser sintering. In pivoting, rotating, and linear motion, the parts proved to be at least three times more abrasion resistant than standard materials.