Riding a bike is fun, but it can be uncomfortable at times, especially when biking over rough terrain. When you hit a bump, a jolt is sent through your hands and arms – but with shock absorbing grips, that discomfort can be reduced. That’s what Riccardo Nicastro, a mechanical engineer, and Andrea Ricci, a medical doctor, set out to create when they formed NIRI, a startup whose first product is a shock-absorbing handlebar grip.
NIRI Grips are durable, lightweight and fully customizable. They’re designed to absorb the vibrations that occur during off-road biking, making it so that the rider doesn’t feel every stone, root and bump encountered during a ride.
“We collected and analyzed data and compared many different products and prototypes until we felt we made it,” said Ricci. “Then we found the optimum absorbing behavior for different riding conditions (heavier or lighter people, riding level, terrain type).”
They decided on Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printing technology to not only prototype the grips, but to fabricate the final product. While prototyping, they discovered Sinterit and its affordable Lisa desktop SLS 3D printer, which was perfect for their needs, allowing them to easily customize the grips and to create lightweight lattice structures that weigh only 49 grams each. It also allowed them to quickly create prototypes so that they could test them and improve them as needed.
“From a backyard to a small operational headquarter we made our way to make our idea come true, we tested day by day on the field, doing what we like to do, following a dream,” said Nicastro. “We built a testing machine, to keep progressing even when the weather was too bad to get out and test and to speed up the process…few minutes on this test bench could reproduce a day riding.”
NIRI Grips are now raising money on Kickstarter, attempting to bring in €30,000 by April 25th. You can get a pair of personalized grips with lock-on rings for as little as a €32 pledge. Backers can choose the hardness of their grips, depending on the type of riding they plan to do, as well as the colors and text that will appear on them.
Until recently, SLS 3D printing was inaccessible to all but the largest companies, with machines costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Sinterit Lisa changed that, making the technology affordable to small companies and even individuals. While it may be a small desktop 3D printer, the print quality is still comparable to industrial machines, meaning that startups such as NIRI can deliver high-quality 3D printed products without blowing their entire budgets.
“In Sinterit we believe that human creation is unlimited and from the start of our company this idea was our driving force,” said Sinterit Co-Founder Konrad Głowacki. “Producing 3d printers in a game-changing technology, available to everyone who has a remarkable, unique concept. NIRI Grips are a role model of that philosophy. I am grateful that we could print some early models of this remarkable grips, that will surely change the off-road riding quality.”
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