Profiles in Flexible Modeling: Specialized Bicycle Components

Specialized Bicycle Components recently launched its 2014 models. The bikes are faster, the frames stiffer and lighter, and the suspensions more advanced. Designers have also introduced storage systems so carrying your water bottles, tubes and wrenches aren’t such an afterthought.

You can check out all the new products here.

You’ll see the team has been busy. Not surprising when you consider that they are one of the most popular developers of competition and recreational bicycles in the United States.

We looked closer at how PTC Creo fits into the product development cycle, especially the PTC Creo Flexible Modeling Extension (FMX), which Specialized adopted earlier this year when the engineering team upgraded to PTC Creo.

“The pace and the amount of innovation the company can introduce each year is a direct result of the design team and PTC Creo,” says Specialized creative director, Robert Egger. You can see the results in models like the 2014 Epic cross country racer with its internal cable routing and advanced suspension technology, including the fine-tuned mini-brain rear shock.

Components and designs come from inside and outside the company. And that’s where Flexible Modeling can be a big help.

“We work closely with our suppliers, sharing design and data freely to reach an optimized result for our customers,” says Robb Jankura, mountain bike engineering manager and power PTC Creo user. The company’s suppliers often provide 3D models of components in the form of neutral files with design intent removed.

Specialized engineers and designers bring these “dumb models” into assembly models as they evolve the design.

In the past, editing neutral files would have been time consuming. So engineers typically specified the changes with text or redlines that were open to interpretation and sometimes resulted in errors when the supplier sent back the revised model.

Specialized engineers and designers now use PTC Creo FMX to edit dumb solids provided by suppliers, without having to be concerned  about what CAD system the model was originally created in. They can even modify native CAD models without having to understand their design intent.

“Since I don’t have to be concerned with file types or which supplier component is in which format, I get the overall bike developed much faster than before,” says Jankura.

The result is bikes and equipment that are better focused on the rider. With PTC Creo, Specialized can do more and more in less time.

“We can now make late-stage design changes in 2 or 3 hours, compared to a process that previously would take 2 to 3 days,” says Ross Galson, CAD administrator at Specialized.

With PTC Creo, Galson says, the company has boosted productivity by about 20-30%–just in time for the 2014 models.

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