Trumpf and Elementum 3D help redesign Intense Cycles’ classic M1 downhill race bike

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Intense Cycles is updating its classic M1 downhill race bike with an additively manufactured backbone (Courtesy Intense Cycles)
Intense Cycles is updating its classic M1 downhill race bike with an additively manufactured backbone (Courtesy Intense Cycles)

Elementum 3D, Thornton, Colorado, USA, has partnered with Trumpf, based in Ditzingen, Germany, to additively manufacture major components for Intense Cycles’ M1 downhill race bike. The updated version of Intense Cycles’ classic M1 will feature the bike’s ‘backbone’ bottom bracket and suspension foundation additively manufactured from A6061-RAM2 alloy.

“I work and ‘think’ in aluminium, so AM opens a new world of creative opportunities for me and my team,” stated Jeff Steber, Intense founder and CEO. “We say Intense merges artistry and engineering, and I am no longer limited to metal sheets and tubes. I have the freedom to create almost any shape I want.”

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When working to optimise the M1, Steber settled on producing the bike’s backbone from a single piece of 6061 aluminium. The new design incorporates internal ribbing to make it stronger and lighter, optimising its suspension; but this made it impossible to create using traditional machining techniques.

The first backbone designs were not seen as ideal for Additive Manufacturing, so Trumpf advised Intense engineers on removing low-angle overhangs to improve the build. Trumpf’s updated build processor TruTops Print increased downskin additive manufacturability from 45° to 25° so the backbone was manufactured with much less overhang-supporting material, reducing the chance for errors, material use, and post-processing required.

With Trumpf’s experience additively manufacturing parts from Elementum 3D’s A6061-RAM2 – a weldable 6061 aluminium – the company was selected to carry out the optimisation alongside the Intense production team.

Christian Lengwenat, Trumpf application engineer for metal AM, stated, “Elementum 3D is professional and responds quickly. It’s comforting to work with a reliable, friendly group. Their advanced material properties and surface finish exceeded our expectations, and we plan to use more Elementum 3D powders in our machines.”

From the first test build, Intense reported that it appreciated A6061-RAM2’s weldability, finding it exactly like working with billet-machined 6061, with no porosity or contamination issues. Trumpf noted the predictable processability, which enabled developing a working build parameter in two weeks and required Additive Manufacturing just two DOEs (designs of experiments) to reach the material’s expected relative density value.

Both companies found A6061-RAM2 ideal for this project, particularly given the resultant parts’ surface finish and accuracy. After the backbone was welded to the frame it was reportedly nearly impossible to determine which parts were additively manufactured, machined, or forged.

Steber remarked, “I’m thankful for the great work Trumpf and Elementum 3D provided. Their guidance and expertise played a critical role in successfully producing our new M1. I am happy to report the M1 finished 2nd at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.”

Based on this project and the bike’s performance, Intense intends to ramp up M1 production and has plans to incorporate Additive Manufacturing into future prototyping projects and other production parts.

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February 22, 2024

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