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TRUMPF and Elementum 3D recreate INTENSE Cycles’ M1 race bike

Using the A6061-RAM2 alloy to produce the bikes backbone on TRUMPF's TruPrint 3000

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Elementum 3D, a developer and supplier of metal AM advanced materials, print parameters, and services, in partnership with industrial metal AM company TRUMPF, has enabled a redesigned, additively manufactured ‘backbone’ for INTENSE Cycles’ updated M1 downhill race bike, using its A6061-RAM2 alloy. The bicycle industry is increasingly exploring the use of AM for prototyping and production.

INTENSE has been at the forefront of the bicycle industry for three decades – producing high-end carbon fiber and aluminum rides proven on the race circuit and coveted by riders at all levels of the sport. The company’s drive to keep improving its products and its team’s competitive edge has led to its adoption of AM technology.

“I work and ‘think’ in aluminum, so AM opens a new world of creative opportunities for me and my team,” said Jeff Steber, Founder and CEO of INTENSE Cycles. “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.”

Post-processed INTENSE M1 A6061-RAM2 printed backbones.

To reconceive the M1 downhill bike, Steber’s team planned to design and produce the M1’s backbone from one piece of 6061 Aluminum. The part and the material are critical to optimizing the bike’s suspension performance. The innovative new design incorporates internal ribbing to make it stronger and lighter – impossible to create using traditional machining techniques. Therefore, AM was the solution.

The team partnered with TRUMPF, a producer of manufacturing solutions including the TruPrint 3000 3D printer in which the parts were produced. The material of choice was Elementum 3D’s A6061-RAM2 – the same alloy INTENSE already used for its aluminum frames.

INTENSE M1 A6061-RAM2 printed backbones with supports.

The first backbone designs were not ideal for printing, so TRUMPF advised INTENSE engineers to remove low-angle overhangs to improve printability. TRUMPF’s updated build processor, ‘TruTops Print’, increased downskin printability from 45° to 25°, so the backbone printed with much less overhang-supporting material – reducing the chance for errors, material use, and post-processing.

TRUMPF contacted Elementum 3D for delivery of its A6061-RAM2 feedstock material, after which TRUMPF confirmed that the powder performed well with its existing infrastructure. INTENSE A6061-RAM2 is well-suited for in-house bike frame prototyping because it is easily welded and heat-treated with other frame parts, including thin-wall tubing.

“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,” said Christian Lengwenat, Application Engineer at TRUMPF.

A6061-RAM2’s weldability was exactly like working with billet-machined 6061, with no porosity or contamination issues. Both companies reportedly found A6061-RAM2 ideal for this project, particularly given the printed parts’ surface finish and accuracy. After the backbone was welded to the frame, it was nearly impossible to determine which parts were printed, machined, or forged.

“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,” said Steber.

Based on this project and the bike’s performance, INTENSE is ramping up M1 production for consumers and plans to incorporate AM into future prototyping projects and other production parts.

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