DQBD develops 3D printed saddle with Stratasys SAF technology

German design company DQBD GmbH is using Stratasys’ Selective Absorption Fusion (SAF) 3D printing technology to produce personalised cycling saddles that boast a higher level of comfort.

With the H350 3D printer, which Stratasys introduced in April, DQBD is additively manufacturing several of the saddle’s load-bearing parts at scale, saving thousands of euros in costs and cutting lead times from months to days.

The saddle – named SAM (saddle additive manufacturing) – comprises a semi-rigid and personalised 3D printed spine and a 3D thermoformed seat pad, produced according to the individual rider’s requirements. Software mapping of pressure points and weight distribution is being used to match the geometry of the saddle with the rider’s body, while the composition of rigid and flexible zones in the saddles spine ensure support and adaption is provided where needed. This combination, DQBD says, returns more flex than other performance orientated saddles and provides higher levels of comfort, and less rider fatigue.

PA11 is the material used to produce the saddles because of its high ductility, high impact and high fatigue resistance, while impact strength, pressure and fatigue resistance tests are carried out to ensure the product meets industry standards. DQBD believes the 3D printed saddle provides such comfort that cycling shorts are unnecessary, while also suggesting the application is an example of the idea of custom personalisation at scale being a realistic benefit of 3D printing.

“We had always planned for AM to play a pivotal role in the creation of SAM – our cycling saddle,” commented DQBD CEO Sebastian Hess. “In fact, we designed the saddle with additive manufacturing in mind. As well as delivering consistently accurate, production-grade parts at volume quickly and affordably, the technology offers a unique opportunity to personalise products in a way that cannot be replicated with traditional methods. When using the H350, we have seen cost savings across the entire product development process of up to £22,000 against those of injection moulding methods, as we are eliminating tooling costs completely. We have also shortened our lead times to around ten days compared to the 3-6 months it can take with traditional manufacturing.”

“We are seeing a definite trend in businesses’ readiness for volume production of end use parts,” offered Yann Rageul, Head of Manufacturing Business Unit EMEA & Asia at Stratasys. “DQBD is showcasing how the H350 and its SAF technology can not only optimise the entire production process with valuable time and cost savings, but also shows the deployment of AM for truly unique and advanced designs – ready for production at scale. We are proud to see that the SAM saddle design DQBD created shows the advancements of additive manufacturing within the product development cycle – as the product concept was designed around AM from the start.”

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