What is Custom Extrusion & How is it used in the M2?

A look behind the various process employed in the manufacture of the M2

The Manufacturing Series

As part of the ‘Processes behind the M2’ series we wanted to look at a topic that’s reshaped how bikes are made and how they look: custom extrusion.

This process lets bike designers move away from traditional round tubing and be more creative. This isn’t simply an aesthetic choice, it can also make for stronger, lighter and more complex frame designs.

What is Custom Extrusion?

Custom extrusion is an advanced manufacturing process whereby a raw material, like aluminium in the case of the M2, is turned into a tube with almost any profile.

Firstly the material is heated up to make it malleable, a little like clay in consistency. Then the material is forced through the die which defines the material’s shape as it emerges from the other end.

Being able to make tubes with almost any profile allows the FLIT engineers to be much more creative in how they design the M2.

Click the video link below to watch Dave, Lead Engineer explain more…

So what are the benefits of using custom extrusion?

Custom extrusions give two main benefits to the design of the FLIT M2: a cleaner look and a precise fold. 

With lots of components built into the frame of the bike itself, such as the battery in the top tube, it is very useful to have complex tube profiles that allow the FLIT engineers to also run most of the cables, such as for the motor or the rear brakes, through the tubes as well. This makes the bike look much cleaner and reduces the risk of disconnections.

“Custom extrusions, like the one used for the top tube, allow us to achieve the look we want for the bike whilst also allowing us to put more integrated features on to the part, for example features to guide cables. This can really elevate the part design.”

Matt, FLIT’s Design Lead on the M2 project

Custom tubing for a precise fold

There are two parts to making a genuinely useful and compact folding bike. The first is having a good fold, and the second is being able to manufacture the bike so that it performs that fold reliably and accurately.

Custom extrusions allow us to achieve both of these by not only adding complexity to the parts themselves, for example getting the cables out of the way of the fold, but also by allowing us to manufacture those parts with excellent precision, so that they always perform as intended.

We’ll be posting more blogs like this over the coming months leading up to the first M2 deliveries.

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