The injection moulded rear light housing

The Power of Injection Moulding

As part of the ‘Processes behind the M2’ series we look at how Injection Moulding has been used

For the M2’s manufacture we’ve employed Injection Moulding in order to produce the numerous parts that finish off the bike’s design.  Injection moulding has enabled us to make sure every part is a precision piece of dependable engineering. From the chain tensioner to the rear light housing, injection moulding has enabled us to elevate the quality of the M2.

Understanding Injection Moulding:

Injection moulding is a manufacturing process where molten polymer (plastic) is injected into a mould (or tool), where it solidifies, taking the desired shape of the mould.  There are many process parameters to control in the injection moulding process to produce accurate parts, including; the pressure the polymer is injected under, the speed at which the polymer is injected, and the temperature of the mould.  There are also many design features of injection mould tools/machines, such as cores and sliders, that allow the production of very complex parts. Brian Sather’s article about the injection moulding of the seemingly simple lego brick gives a great overview of the complexity involved in part and tool design.

So why do we use injection moulding?

Cost-Efficiency in Mass Production:

For companies like ours that strive to make cutting-edge electric bikes accessible to a broad audience, the cost factor is always in the spotlight.  Due to the initial high upfront costs required for tooling, injection moulding only becomes cost effective when producing large volumes of parts.  Once machines are set up (or tooled) however, we can produce thousands of parts relatively quickly, cheaply and with all the precision and accuracy we require.  This efficiency ultimately benefits consumers by making high-quality folding electric bikes more affordable.

Lightweight yet sturdy:

Another significant advantage of injection moulding in bike production is the ability to create lightweight yet robust components.  In the world of electric folding bikes every gram counts, this method allows for the development of parts that enhance overall performance without compromising durability or significantly adding to the overall weight.  Although these parts may seem small, they have important functions.  They protect the frame from wires rubbing, keep electrical parts dry and stop unwanted movement.

The right material for the job:

Injection moulding is a versatile process that can be used with basically any polymer that can be melted and formed without causing a chemical change to the underlying polymer.  These are known as ‘thermoplastics’.  This wide array of materials means that we can pick the one with the best properties for each part’s design and for the job it needs to do.  For example, a hard-wearing TPU  is ideal for a part that needs to resist abrasion, such as the feet which the M2 rests on when folded.  For a part that we need to be stiff and retain its shape under constant stress, however, such as the chain-tensioner arm, a better option is a glass-fibre filled nylon.

All in all, being able to use this process has enabled us to improve the quality of finish on the M2 compared to the FLIT-16.  This quality of finish has enabled us to make a bike at the very top of its category.

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