When people think of high-end bicycles, the first name that comes to mind is Trek
Trek leads the world of performance bicycles, with a passion for innovation, quality, and performance. When their Composites Engineering group was tasked with finding creative engineered solutions to reduce weight and increase the performance of future bicycle models, they turned to PlastiComp for assistance with thermoplastic composite materials. PlastiComp is a unique materials supplier, often partnering with the OEM to deliver turnkey solutions beyond materials, including process and part design optimization.
The PlastiComp Engineering and Design team went to work immediately. “We were able to forge a seamless relationship with Trek’s group,” noted Eric Wollan, Chief Operating Officer at PlastiComp. Design tools such as Finite Element Method (FEM) for structural analyses and Mold Flow Analysis (MFA) for injection molding were used extensively, to replace metal parts with lightweight Long Carbon Fiber Thermoplastic Composites (CF-LFT). For these applications, PlastiComp used proprietary carbon-fiber reinforced plastics to meet the demanding requirements of the Trek bicycle parts. “The bicycle industry demands light weight, high performance products. By working closely with PlastiComp and utilizing their technology, we were able to design light weight, cost effective composite structures that replaced metal components,” said Brad Pawlitzke, Composite Design Engineer at Trek.
After extensive testing in laboratories and in the field, one production part on their high-end carbon mountain bike platform has been successfully converted to composites. Additionally, four other parts on high end platforms are in various developmental phases. All of these projects gain a weight savings of 20% to 50% per part.
Trek is expected to introduce some of these parts on Trek 2012 model-year bikes. With this success under their belt, Trek and PlastiComp engineers are looking ahead to accelerating metal substitution with composites. “We built a great relationship early on, in our discussions with PlastiComp. Through this relationship we have been able integrate additional materials and process technology into our products,” said Mark Wilke, Chief Process Engineer – Composites at Trek.
Headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, Trek Bicycle Corporation is a global leader in bicycle design and manufacturing.
PlastiComp, Inc. focuses on developing and providing long fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite technologies to partners worldwide. These include ready-to-process reinforced long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) pelletized compounds, along with process development and manufacturing equipment licensing for LFT pultrusion, in-line direct long fiber thermoplastic (D-LFT) Pushtrusion®, and in-line direct glass mat thermoplastic (D-GMT®) technologies. PlastiComp’s injection moldable Complēt® LFT composite compounds are available as standard and custom formulations that combine long glass, carbon, and other specialty fiber reinforcement with thermoplastic polymers from polypropylene to PEEK.