Buell Chairman Outlines Industrial Design Vision
CAD Capabilities Enhance Quality of Motorcycle Designs
Cincinnati,OH—(PRNewswire)—Erik Buell, chairman and chief technical officer of Buell Motorcycle Company, recently described the unique challenges of designing motorcycles, and how he is implementing new design and technology applications. Buell delivered his remarks at a breakfast event hosted by think3 at the annual Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) National Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in August.
“At Buell Motorcycles, we’re dedicated to making the riding experience fun, and in unique ways, too,” said Buell. “We have dedicated teams focused on every component of what we refer to as ‘customer-driven design.’ We get into the customer’s head and focus on intangibles to ensure the customer/product identification early on in the design process.”
Buell’s design philosophy—“simplicity through invention”—is built on a design foundation he calls the “Trilogy of Tech.” This involves incorporating three fundamentals of design into every Buell motorcycle. These principles, as described by Buell, are:
Mass Centralization: Keeping everything in the motorcycle centralized as much as possible to maximize the rider’s control over the bike. It’s a matter of “taking the weight off the ends and making it compact right underneath you.”
Frame Rigidity: Making the wheels stay in line with each other, “so when the rider is tossing the bike around, it doesn’t flex. You want to flick the bike into the corners and have it stay exactly where you planted it.”
Low Unsprung Weight: Keeping the weight not supported by springs as light as possible. The front wheels on the Ulysses™ XB12X, Buell’s newest sportbike, are a perfect example. “With the inside-out rotor, they’re incredibly light. The wheels follow the bumps in the road and won’t come off when you’re riding on the bumpy streets. It really clings to the road and acts predictably.”
think3’s industrial design tools were used in developing the Buell Ulysses XB12X, which was unveiled in July. The Ulysses is designed to perform off- and on-road. To achieve this versatility, design requirements included long-travel suspension, specialized tires, an upright seating position, and Triple Tail luggage and passenger accommodations. The bike weighs just 425 pounds, and the design centralizes mass and lowers the center of gravity to help the Ulysses be more responsive on paved/unpaved roads.
think3 facilitated the design process by enabling work to be done in a multi-CAD environment. Key parts of the Ulysses were designed and engineered from start to finish using think3 CAD capabilities, and every new component of the bike was solid-modelled using think3 technology. According to Buell, the key benefits of using think3 technology included the ability to read any legacy data; hybrid surface and solid modeling capabilities, and improved design for manufacturability. Buell had the flexibility of doing iterative designs without losing data, time, or design intent through manufacturing.
“We’re pleased that our partnership with Buell has paid off not only in enabling Erik and his company to improve the quality of their bike designs and bottom line, but also in a fun and exciting riding experience for their customers,” said Craig Lewis, vice president of worldwide sales, think3. “Buell has been using think3 technology since the late 1990s, and all the bikes designed and manufactured since that time have used think3 technology in some fashion to improve design and performance.”
think3 supplies product development solutions to mid-sized manufacturers worldwide. Customers include BMW, Audi, Maytag, Alessi and GE Medical Devices.
Redesigned Archery Display Reduces Injection molding Cost
St. Cloud, MN—A major sporting goods retailer recently partnered with Northern Wire Products to redesign a simpler and more cost cost-effective bow hook display. Utilizing the latest design software, Northern Wire worked with the company’s design team to produce prototype renderings that gave the retailer realistic-looking options to evaluate and modify. Prior to manufacturing, changes were made quickly and inexpensively to achieve the “desired look.”
Designed with permanent fixed-position hooks, the new display is efficiently constructed with a high-quality tube, sheet metal brackets, wire-formed hook, and slip-on protective hook covers. It is clear powder-coat painted to match the design scheme of other fixtures in the archery product line. According to Northern Wire Products, the redesign eliminated product positioning problems experienced with previous displays, allowing for greatly improved showcasing of the new bows while generating increased attention. Equally important, the in-store setup is fast and trouble-free because the new display design requires no complicated and time-consuming assembly.
A culture that is built around lean Motorcycle Mold manufacturing principles allows Northern Wire Products to take costs out of customers’ displays through product/component redesign, streamlined manufacturing, and efficient assembly and distribution. The total per unit cost of the new bow hook display is reported to be 51% less than previous bow hook display designs. It is said to meet the sporting goods retailer’s criteria for increasing sales velocity and turn rates while reducing display costs.