If you’re a dedicated cyclist, you know Cane Creek Cycling Components, famous for its headsets, which are the critical bearing assemblies that secure forks and handlebars to a bike.
Among other innovations, the Fletcher, N.C., company introduced the bicycle industry to the threadless headset (AheadSet®), the dominant configuration on well-made bikes today.
Cane Creek is relying on SolidWorks® software to ensure its engineering organization performs just as smoothly as its components. The company is the latest in an expanding range of premium bicycling brands to turn to SolidWorks, including Cervelo Cycles, Cycles DeVinci Inc., Mountain Cycle, and Trek Bicycle Corp.
In 2004, to prepare for an ambitious product expansion, Cane Creek took time to objectively evaluate its engineering tools. The company began using SolidWorks because it found that the software is easier to use and more cost-effective, incorporates integrated simulation tools, and is the preferred design software of many vendors and customers.
“SolidWorks meets all of our evolving research and development needs,” said R&D Director Joshua Coaplen. “The purpose of our CAD system is to help us design, analyze, and manufacture parts in a way that reduces costs and time to market. SolidWorks enables us to accomplish everything that Cane Creek needs to achieve in terms of automating product development.”
For example, the company has dramatically cut time and cost from the development of prototype molds. Using SolidWorks capabilities such as draft analysis, Cane Creek can ensure the mold is fit for use before it’s machined. “By conducting more design iterations in SolidWorks, we have cut in half the number of prototype molds required for each part, which saves us the cost of making prototype molds and up to 10 weeks of development time,” Coaplen said. “The overall impact of these productivity gains is a 15 percent decrease in time to market.”
SolidWorks Simulation software helps Cane Creek visualize the deformation of rubber bearing seals and modify its designs accordingly before production. SolidWorks configuration tools enable engineers to automate parts of different sizes from one base headset design.
Since implementing SolidWorks, Cane Creek has increased its headset offerings by 30 percent and expanded its shock absorber product line by 100 percent. “We’ve achieved our product growth objectives in part because SolidWorks allows us to focus squarely on design,” Coaplen said. “We’re not interested in exerting more effort to learn about software. We want our thinking to concentrate on the products that we are trying to design, not the tools used to design them. SolidWorks helps us achieve that focus.”
Cane Creek plans to use SolidWorks’ 3DVIA Composer™ technical communication software to quickly create animated, interactive product manuals for the Web. The interactive manuals will replace the current paper-based manuals with the goal of enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing telephone support hours.
“The software eliminates a lot of time now spent converting engineering data to publication-ready content,” said engineer Jim Morrison. “We’ll end up with better manuals, happier customers, and engineers who can spend more time on design.”
Cane Creek relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller TPM Inc. for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.