From Prototype to Production to Sales in weeks
3T employee, Martyn Harris, identified a gap in the cycle accessory market. As a former Track Cycling Masters World Champion, Martyn saw there was a need to mount hardware (such as GPS devices, mobile phones, power meters, video cameras, etc) on bike handle bars. Not only was there a variety of hardware but the handle bars were all of different diameters, meaning there was potentially a large range of variant products to produce.
Because of Martyn’s experience working at 3T – he has been part of the team since 2000 – he knew that Additive Manufacturing (AM) offered an ideal solution. AM allows for rapid prototyping and multiple iterations of a design or product to be made. Additionally, it is ideally suited to designing complex geometries and producing functional parts that are aesthetically pleasing.
Working with a fellow cyclist, Martyn developed the initial CAD drawings and within four weeks, had a functional prototype part on his own bike.
Martyn had established RaceWare Direct as an online retailer of specialist and bespoke cycling accessories six months previously. Already selling an exclusive range of wheels, RaceWare Direct increased its online offering and started adding a range of handle bar mount brackets.
Demand for the product was immediate and RaceWare Direct began to extend its range to suit various makes and brands of hardware and offer a range of standard and bespoke colours.
Just a couple of weeks after the product was launched online and following an active social media marketing campaign, RaceWare started selling to retailers and the product appeared on shelves in shops.
When new hardware is produced, RaceWare can respond rapidly and produce mounts within weeks. If traditional manufacturing methods were used which would require production of tooling, the lead time would be months rather than weeks.
Speaking about RaceWare’s use of AM technology, Martyn Harris said: “Additive Manufacturing allowed me to create a new range of products with a very small budget – something that would have been impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques. I can also get new products to market within a couple of weeks, as well as responding rapidly to requests for bespoke parts. 3T’s experience in scaleable production parts has meant it has been possible to expand the product range and distribution rapidly.”
RaceWare Direct is now established in the cycle accessory market with more than 20 products in a range of 11 colours and a range of five sizes.
In the first twelve months of operation, the company has sold more than 6,000 products and exports mounts all over the world. Elite UK and international cycling teams are competing using RaceWare products and a number of the company’s products were used in the 2013 Tour de France.
The company has expanded in to marketing lightweight metal bike parts which are manufactured additively such as a hollow titanium chain catcher and a titanium race number holder. Further metal parts are in development.