CAM Software Facilitates Rapid Prototyping For Bicycle Component Manufacturer

Given the extensive industrial design and CAD tools available, product development engineers at this company sought to find a flexible and cost effective CAM software package to facilitate rapid prototyping.

Case Study From: 6/15/2003 Modern Machine Shop

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Bicycle suspension forks

RockShox machines bicycle suspension forks on a Haas vertical machining center.

SRAM Corporation (Chicago, Illinois) develops and manufactures bicycle and mountain bicycle components such as rear derailleurs; braking systems; and propulsion systems, such as multi sprocket rear cassettes.

RockShox, a division of SRAM, manufactures premium cycle suspension products. The focus of the product line is high-performance front suspension forks, rear shock products and suspension seat posts. The lower fork legs are precision castings of magnesium, while the upper support structures (crowns) are precision aluminum forgings.

The development cycle begins with emphasis on industrial design using software products. The matured industrial design concepts are then integrated into Pro/Engineer CAD solid models for structural analysis and produce-ability. These developed products are then prototyped for “touch and feel” evaluation and rigorous internal structural testing. The Haas Super Mini Mill was selected for the application.

Given the extensive industrial design and CAD tools available at RockShox, product development engineers John Reid and Russ Rose sought to find a flexible and cost effective CAM software package to facilitate rapid prototyping.

Several low- to high-cost CAM products were evaluated for their file import robustness, ease of part manipulation within the package and efficiency of machine tool path generation. VisualMill from MecSoft Corporation (Irvine, California) was selected as the leader in all of these areas, according to RockShox. “While others that were evaluated literally crashed when importing large Pro/E IGES surface files, VisualMill was able to handle all of them,” says Mr. Reid. “The organization of the machining operations is very flexible and easy to manipulate and rearrange due to the Windows-based architecture.

“Additionally, the knowledge base function allows for previously programmed operations to be imported and applied to similar parts, saving valuable programming time by avoiding redundancy,” he continues.

Mr. Reid notes that there are a variety of post processes included with VisualMill. The Haas post processor is standard. “If any post processor needs were required, we found MecSoft Corporation to be very helpful,” he says. “The host computer for this activity is networked to SRAM operations worldwide. The PC is connected to the Haas using the serial communication port.”

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