“SILCA is proud to announce its first 3D titanium printer is set up and ready to produce SILCA’s futuristic range of products. First to take full advantage of this technology is a crazy light bike computer handlebar mount. 3D printing lets you have full control over the design of the product compared to traditional CNC methods because it’s possible to also design the interior. This results in a lighter and stronger product that can be optimized in ways that are not possible by any other method.” – Silca
The titanium handlebar mount takes full advantage of this by having a latticework inside instead of being made of solid titanium. This design uses techniques and concepts from architecture and aircraft design allowing for maximum strength at minimum weight, and then 3D printing allows these techniques to be applied at a scale far smaller than what is possible by any other manufacturing method.
It’s quite mind-blowing when you look at it compared to conventionally manufactured products. It keeps the mount under 35 grams and makes it six to ten times stronger than designs made by traditional methods in aluminum.
The move to 3D printing was a natural progression for SILCA following their success with titanium fabrication and laser welding brought in-house during the development of the Sicuro bottle cage. This move into 3D CNC welding with lasers was a unique move within the cycling industry and produces products with a level of consistency previously unimagined.
As the SILCA engineering and manufacturing team began being approached by companies for aerospace and auto-racing projects using their welders, they began to see that 3D printing would represent a significant place in future manufacturing and design.
The background and general curiosity of SILCA’s CEO Josh Poertner is the driving force behind these developments. After studying aerospace and automotive engineering as well as material science at Vanderbilt University, Josh joined ZIPP as technical director in 1999. There he helped change the face of pro cycling and triathlon, designing new products and categories of carbon fiber and aerodynamic components and also consulting individual athletes on their specific needs for big races or record-breaking attempts. Later he founded Aeromind, his own consultancy company, which purchased the SILCA trademark in 2014.
In the past seven years, Aeromind and SILCA have worked with more than half a dozen ProTour teams as well as world and Olympic champions in Track, Triathlon, and other disciplines.
Many SILCA products have been born out of requests or frustrations experienced by mechanics or athletes, while much of the technological development done by Aeromind has been used to consult with teams and athletes in the areas of aerodynamics, equipment selection, and tire pressure optimization.
“So you think of the SILCA tire pressure calculator. It’s not really based on data from SILCA. It’s actually Aeromind’s data collected through hundreds of real-world optimizations done for teams and pro athletes, and SILCA acts as the front through which we can turn that into a product that people can use.” – Josh Poertner on how Aeromind forms the basis for SILCA products.
“As a design engineer, having a 3D titanium printer completely changes the game in how we design products. We basically had to relearn how to design products once all of the manufacturing limitations were removed, it has been immensely exciting and rewarding to see these products come to life at weights and strengths that were previously unimaginable.