3D printing of elastomers. The flexible resistance of TPU.

Crowns, hubs and spokes rotate at great speed. The chain vibrates. Hands are gripped on the soft handlebar grip.

The bicycle handlebar grips made by DuePiGreco, as pre-series components, were 3D printed in order to study the possibility of integrating an electronic board with the controls for activating the lights.

“Thanks to TPU it was possible to simulate the soft feeling of a real membrane keyboard”, explains Diego Pagnan, CEO of Due Pi Greco, who then adds:

«The prototype, in addition to providing important information for mass production, performed very well during the road tests. It turned out to be watertight and 100% functional. ».

If we said, however, that the handlebar grips are born from prototypes in which an entirely 3D printed electronic (membrane) keyboard is integrated, probably anyone would start to think that there is something exceptional in all of this.

Pushing the limits of classic 3D printing

The bicycle handlebar grips protagonists of our incipit were made by DuePiGreco, an Italian company that deals with industrial design, engineering, modeling and prototyping of industrial products.

Since 2010, the company has been developing customer ideas and projects, with particular attention to the aesthetic and functional aspects of the product. Among the production methods, of course, there is the one of 3D printing.

Can flexible materials also be 3D printed?

The request to 3D print flexible and soft-touch components led DuePiGreco to choose 3ntr.

In the case of bicycle handlebar grips, for example, the need was to make the products using two co-molded materials, in order to obtain a single element made up of rigid and flexible parts.

says he started looking for a partner who could offer technological solutions and technical skills up to the situation, in order to introduce additive manufacturing into business processes. The choice fell on 3ntr and its range of industrial 3D printers.

3D printed multi-material monolithic parts

The meeting between DuePiGreco and 3ntr led to major changes in the use of additive manufacturing and 3D printing within the company.

“In particular – explains Diego Pagnan – 3ntr has responded to our need to print TPU with Shore A hardness ranging from 85 to 95 to create multi-material monolithic parts through a co-molding process“.

The softness in 3D: 3ntr prints the TPU

From the hardware point of view, the choice fell on the A2V4 model industrial 3D printer, dotata di apposito equipped with a special SPFU kit for the extrusion of TPU. Diego Pagnan describes the results obtained as follows: 

“The objects are compact and shiny, not rough to the touch. The parts co-printed with 3ntr machines have exceptional resistance to wear and chemical agents, and do not crumble or flake over time”.

Additive and subtractive manufacturing: allies in production

3D printers are increasingly in demand to complement traditional production technologies. The company declares that 3D printing covers 70% of the production of its final components and satisfies almost all production needs.

Today, the company integrates, in its production process, 6 A2V4 machines in the FULL OPTIONAL version, equipped with:

  • three extruders (for multi-material printing)
  • SPFU kit (for TPU printing)
  • “VENTO” dryers

Regarding the use of 3D printers in DuePiGreco, the owner explains:

«The machines are used 600 hours a month, for a total of 3,600 hours, 24 hours a day… weekends included. Thanks to the remote connection and the camera supplied, 3D printing processes can be monitored at any time, even remotely. ».

Learn more about 3D printing

To learn more about the news and opportunities related to the world of 3D printing, we invite you to take a look at the other case histories that you can find on our blog. Or, contact 3ntr using the form you find on the website.