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Nyxo’s 3D Printed Bike Saddle is a 3D Pioneers Challenge Finalist

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For five years, the 3D Pioneers Challenge (3DPC), organized by d.sign21 and held at the Rapid.Tech 3D event, has been targeting students and young professionals who work in design or technical fields, as well as the automotive, medical, and research sectors, to push the boundaries in ten different categories, including architecture, lifestyle, and medical. In the past, winners have come up with 3D printed innovations in textiles, construction, and more, and the finalists for 3DPC 2020 were just announced.

“More than 50 finalists made it onto the shortlist in the multi-stage jury process and will now be presented here and on social media until the digital award ceremony,” the challenge website states.

Nyxo bike saddle rendering

The prestigious design challenge this year received entries from 28 different countries, including UAE-based finalist Nyxo Visionary Design. Founded by Italian designers Mirko and Michele Daneluzzo, the Dubai studio submitted its 3D printed bike saddle concept, Kavis, to the competition. They used a combination of mixed materials and geometries to design the prototype, which is a great example of how to tailor sporting equipment to individual athletes.

“What is truly enticing for professional and amateurs cyclists is the possibility, thanks to a combination of digital design, ergonomic measures and the opportunity of using the 3D print, to have a saddle specifically designed for the rider anatomy, to maximize comfort and performance,” Nyxo wrote in a press release.

The saddle is one of the three parts of the bike that meets your body, so it’s a pretty important component. But, it is often blamed for discomfort during riding. Factors like terrain, body anatomy and position on the bike, and a person’s flexibility can all influence how comfortable a bike saddle is, but in a perfect world, all cyclists would have custom saddles that are tailor-made for their individual bodies. As we’ve seen before, 3D printing can help make this a reality, which is exactly the direction that Nyxo went.

“We have therefore reflected on how it is possible to make this object adaptable to the widest possible audience and how to configure the form in a manner to encompass different qualities in a single body,” they wrote. “The softness of a padding, the rigidity to sustain the body, the porosity to provide ventilation. The use of 3D printing in the production of the saddle bring these benefits and more.”

By using a “multimaterial voxel printing process,” the studio was able to smoothly insert multiple mechanical properties into the saddle, specifically stiff nylon for its spine and rails. Then, the material transitions and becomes a softer rubber in the part of the saddle that connects the bicycle frame to the rider’s body, “while maintaining the formal continuity.”

Nyxo built the model for its Kavis saddle on what it calls “a series of construction curves,” the adaptation of which makes it possible to reconfigure the seat’s shape. The studio diffused a modular element in the volume, which was then changed to fit a certain sector. The module they used for this was a hybrid solution between the Schoen’s Batwing Surface and Scherk’s Saddle Tower Surface, two different kinds of minimal surfaces, or a surface with the smallest possible area that spans its boundary, like a soap film.

Nyxo bike saddle displacement

This geometry is what gives the saddle its rigidity, particularly where rubber is used, and combining the material with this configuration gives it a “spring effect.” The elastic properties make the bike saddle more comfortable, without having to use extra materials or upholstery, and the cavities created by surface articulation in the seat help air flow through it, acting as a natural ventilation system.

“The modular cellular composition is parametrically generated allowing the configuration to meet specific variables such as cycling position and desired flexibility. A different repetition of the module corresponds to a different density of the volume: an higher density of its distribution will build higher structural performance, therefore increase the rigidity of the object,” Nyxo wrote. “As a result we have a wide range of customizations and the opportunity to get the best performing product possible by working on a synthesis between shape and material.”

Nyxo bike saddle rendering

Due to COVID-19, Rapid.Tech 3D has been cancelled, so the 3DPC and Messe Erfurt are working together to hold this year’s competition, and awards ceremony, in a digital format. The multi-stage jury procedure took place over video calls, and the ceremony will be broadcast on the challenge’s website and social media channels on July 15, 2020. All together, winners will receive a total of €35,000, donated by the Thuringian Ministry of Economics, Science and Digital Society, and the best student entries will receive a Makerbot Replicator+. But, first prize is special this year: juror and designer Ross Lovegrove, challenge partner Materialise, and TEDxTalk speaker Lin Kayser — the winner of last year’s 3DPC “Hyperganic” category — worked together to create a 3D printed trophy for the overall winner.

Do you think Nyxo will win for its 3D printed Kavis bike saddle?

(Images courtesy of Nyxo)

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