3D Printed BicyclesConsumer Products

Scope launches Scalmalloy 3D printed ratchet for Artech bike wheels

The topology-optimized device enables state of the art bicycle wheels that are both lightweight and aerodynamic

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Scope, a Dutch team of engineers and designers, and passionate cyclists, who develop and sell high-performance hand-built carbon wheels, has introduced a new topology-optimized 3D printed ratchet for its state-of-the-art Artech products. The device, yet another high-end consumer product printed in Scalmalloy (we’ve seen a few lately from the frame of Pinarello’s newest racing bicycle to the Barrelhand “space watch”), enables the company to combine a real lightweight wheelset with best-in-class aerodynamics.

In a bicycle wheel, the ratchet mechanism is a key component of the rear hub, particularly in multi-speed bicycles. It usually consists of teeth that engage with a pawl or multiple pawls, allowing the wheel to turn freely in one direction (forwards) while preventing it from turning in the opposite direction (backwards).

This mechanism is essential for the functioning of the bicycle’s freewheel or cassette system. When you pedal forwards, the ratchet engages, allowing the wheel to turn and propel the bicycle forward. However, when you stop pedaling or pedal backward, the ratchet disengages, allowing the wheel to spin freely without turning the pedals or the chain.

Scope launches topology optmized Scalmalloy 3D printed ratchet for Artech bike wheels that are both lightweight and aerodynamic
Serial 3D printed ratchets on a metal laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) printing platform.

The ratchet system allows for efficient power transfer from the pedals to the rear wheel while also enabling coasting without the need to constantly pedal. It’s a simple yet effective design that’s found in most modern bicycles.

In any competitive cycling, the importance of lightweight wheels can’t be underestimated. It affects the riding experience in many ways. The combination of Aero and Lightweight makes the Artech stand out from its competition. With the Artech, Scope makes it possible to ride a Tour de France climbing stage on an Aero wheelset, and with that bring a revolution to the cycling industry.

Designing the bicycle wheel of the future

The shape of the Artech rims is defined by Scope’s Algorithm Enhanced Aerodynamics (AEA) technology. This algorithm optimizes the most aerodynamic rim profile guaranteeing optimal aerodynamic performance.

The initial AEA algorithm, developed in 2017 in collaboration with the University of Technology Delft (aerospace engineering), was 2D-based and included the interaction effect of the rim and tire in the optimization. To redefine the benchmark of aerodynamics, Scope evolved its algorithm by making it 3D-based including the complete bike with components into the optimization.

Scope launches topology optmized Scalmalloy 3D printed ratchet for Artech bike wheels that are both lightweight and aerodynamic

To investigate the effect of the Aeroscales, Scope created 3D printed prototypes of the Artech rims including and excluding the Aeroscales. The rim with Aeroscales showed a significant reduction in drag above and below 10 degrees yaw angle as can be seen in below drag curve.

The Aeroscales significantly reduce drag above and below 10 degrees yaw angle. Measured in the Silverstone Sport Engineering wind tunnel in the UK (June 2023).

Scope launches topology optmized Scalmalloy 3D printed ratchet for Artech bike wheels that are both lightweight and aerodynamic
One of the Artech wheel models with the 3D printed ratchet.

Printing the bicycle wheel of the future

Topology optimization is a mathematical algorithm that optimizes the shape of the hub shell based on a set of load cases and a given design space. The algorithm finds the most lightweight design while ensuring the required strength. Interestingly, the topology optimization results in a bone-like structure again showing the power of nature.

Additive manufacturing/ 3D printing technology unlocks the potential of topology optimization, resulting in an extremely strong and lightweight hub design. The Artech hub shells are 3D printed in Germany using the Scalmalloy material, a high-performance aluminum-scandium alloy material. It is one of the first alloys developed specifically for additive manufacturing by German company APWorks, and today it’s used mainly in industries like Aerospace and Formula One.

The optimized design of the Diamond Ratchet system provides a reduction of peak tensions on the ratchet teeth. Combined with a Diamond Like Carbon coating, this allowed Scope to apply a more lightweight Titanium material, resulting in a weight reduction compared to the steel Diamond Ratchets from Scope’s Race Series. With a price tag of €4,000, the Artech wheels are not for every pocket. But many bicycle professionals and enthusiasts will consider (and desire) them.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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