TIME Bicycles is teaming up with KraussMaffei to modernize composites bicycle manufacturing with
HP-RTM (High Pressure Resin Transfer Moulding) for carbon frames
TIME Bicycles, one of Europe’s most prestigious cycling brands, have been raced to victory in the Olympics, many stages of the Tour de France and multiple world championships. TIME bicycle frames are made of multi-layer, braided carbon sleeves and are elaborately handcrafted using the resin transfer moulding process (RTM), even for models used by ambitious recreational riders. With the help of plastic machinery supplier, KraussMaffei, the manufacturing process is now being optimized from a technical standpoint. To achieve this, the largest carbon bicycle factory in the US is being built in South Carolina. The $6.5 million investment includes a 120,000-square-meter site with an existing factory (13,000 square meters in area). This is being upgraded to expand the capacity of the TIME location in Europe (Gajary, Slovakia) starting in winter 2023. For TIME, production of bicycles in the US had already been in the plans for two years.
To increase efficiency even more, the company is cooperating with experts from KraussMaffei, Clemson University, and the SC Fraunhofer USA Alliance, which is a collaboration between the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Fraunhofer USA. At Clemson, the new manufacturing process is being developed on an existing KraussMaffei system. The goal is to transform TIME’s proven, albeit manual resin transfer moulding technology into a high-pressure RTM process with a high degree of automation. Tony Karklins (TIME CEO) notes: “TIME was the pioneer of carbon in professional bicycles. Now we look forward to producing the most advanced carbon frames in the entire industry.”
The intention is to produce high-end racing bikes as well as e-bikes, which are also becoming increasingly popular in the US. David Judge (Business Development Manager at KraussMaffei) assures: “We are combining efficiency and price appeal with a product that historically has been handmade. For us, it is a wonderful endeavour to industrialize and automate this process without compromising TIME’s tremendous commitment to quality.”
The schedule aims to have clarity on the technology details by the middle of the year and then move on to the actual system design.
KraussMaffei, states it’s the only company in the plastics industry to manufacture machines for all processing methods in-house (reaction process machinery, injection molding, extrusion) – which may also be of interest for other components of TIME bikes. David Judge explains, “We expect to be involved in all optimization processes.” In addition to classic resin transfer molding, KraussMaffei can leverage its surface expertise, such as the ColorForm process and its self-healing polyurethane surfaces, to help ensure that frames come out of the machine ready to go and do not need to be laboriously reworked. Overall, this will take bicycle manufacturing at TIME to a new level of production.