When a bespoke motorbike part wasn’t accessible in days, David Spanton took matters into his own hands and developed the part he needed.
Even for amateur enthusiasts, off-road motorcycling can be highly competitive. So when David Spanton’s motorbike needed an Italian-made replacement part just days before a race, finding one available with such short notice wasn’t possible. Instead, David decided to create a 3D CAD model himself, and called on digital manufacturer of prototypes and production parts, Protolabs, to produce it.
A software engineer by day, David was confident enough of his CAD skills to create a working design for the part. The original component is described by the manufacturer, Marzocchi, as a ‘Spring Cup’.
It sits on the stanchion tube of the motorcycle’s suspension fork, between the main oil seal and bottom guide bushing, helping to centralise and secure the oil seal.
David decided to get two of the parts made. Only one was damaged, but he felt it was wise to have the same on both forks.
He developed a 3D CAD model, using FreeCAD, and submitted it online for Protolabs’ complementary design for manufacturability feedback.
In addition to receiving free design analysis, David chose Protolabs to manufacture his part because of the speed of our service. He’d also heard about Protolabs’ quality standards.
David commented, “My race date was getting closer, and I knew Protolabs was one of very few places where I could get such a small quantity of machined parts turned round very quickly. I didn’t want 3D printing for this – I was looking for the superior finish that’s possible with machining.”
Just right, just in time
From start to finish, it took just three days to produce David’s part in 6082 aluminium. With the part fitted in time for the race, it worked exactly as it should do.
David has raced his bike in several events using his bespoke part and, to date, it’s handling some fairly punishing off-road treatment.
This was the first time David had worked with Protolabs, and he would do it again in similar situations: “It’s nice to know I can get a part machined to the standard I required so quickly. The online quote service saved a lot of time, and every step after that went smoothly and efficiently.”