Hand-crafted high tech
Whether high-tech bicycles or high-quality components for Formula 1: The quality and unique character of these parts are primarily influenced by a unique, highly advanced manufacturing process.
From the initial idea to the finished product – beginning with a skilled development department to the finished production component made of complex fibre composite materials – ax-lightness offers you everything under one roof.
No machine is capable of working as perfectly, precisely and reliably as the people who create the unique specimens from ax-lightness manufacturing. Nearly every part is hand crafted, with the aid of a few, hand-picked mechanical processes. And even during the final inspection at the end of the production process, we trust the eyes, ears and instincts of our experienced employees.
This is how we guarantee that our products are tailored to the special demands of our individual customers. This is how we bring out the best characteristics of any material. And this is how we satisfy the our customers' demanding requirements when it comes to exclusivity, precision, quality and design.
The typical project workflow at ax-lightness is divided into the following steps:
It all starts with the basic concept for a product. Customers often already have CAD files. The ideas from ax-lightness come about for the most part based on our own "experience". Us at ax-lightness we are passionate in what we are doing, always on the lookout for weaknesses in products and product enhancements. Specifications for new products originate in the same way.
ax-lightness devises an individual feasibility concept, which is then followed by a manufacturing concept. First a "wish list" is created which contains all of the characteristics that a customer desires. After weighing the pros and cons, the concept is implemented logically step by step. Our custom orientation enables us to realize most wishes. ax-lightness places emphasis on the technical parameters, which are implemented through innovation.
Production-specific optimization of components, design and creation of a ply book. Fibre-reinforced composites place very special demands on the forming process. There are also production-specific requirements that must be precisely analysed and defined even before production begins. This is the only way to manufacture a high-quality product that is reproducible.
Engineering of tools, devices and cutting fleece: The quality and design of the moulds and devices is a key aspect of production. If the conceptual design does not conform with what is feasible, the quality of the component will ultimately suffer. This is why we create our cutting fleeces with the utmost care and build our tools with maximum precision.
Precise cutting of the individual carbon fibre mats using a CNC cutter. A computer guided cutter is capable of cutting with consistent quality. This is critical to ensure that the laminates have the right layer thickness and fibre orientation in all areas. If not there is a danger of wasting the potential that this material offers.etet.
Separating the individual cut elements from the sheets. The cutter doesn't just make the individual cuts, it also labels them according to the ply book so that the individual layers can made into sets.
Lamination of individual layers in the moulds according to the ply book. "Ply books" are created for all products. They contain the description of how the product is to be laminated. Every work step is numbered – the corresponding sequence of numbers is written beforehand by the CNC cutter on the individual section. This prevents the individual layers or reinforcements from getting mixed up.
Compression of the laminate and hardening of the resin system by applying pressure and temperature in autoclaves. A laminate becomes a high-performance composite when the individual layers are optimally joined. Accordingly, inclusions between the individual layers must be prevented at all costs. For complex moulds, this can only be achieved using autoclaves. The layers are joined under enormous pressure in an autoclave. This is special because the pressure is applied with gases that compress the laminate down to the smallest corner regardless of its shape. This perfectly joins the layers, while simultaneously pressing out entrapped air. This is the only technology that can meet the toughest demands placed on engineering: the demands from astronautics! It is a completely new approach in the cycling industry.
Joining the individual elements to form an assembly using special bonding techniques. Various technologies and materials are used in joining depending on product's requirements profile. At ax-lightness, we have an enormous range of methods from Formula 1, astronautics and prototype construction at our disposal. The exceptional mechanical properties of our products come from our years of experience in these fields.
Manual deburring of glued joints and grinding of the final contours of individual parts. After hardening, the laminates have excess glue with sharp edges. These are removed in this work step. The demands on this type of sophisticated work are so high that only handwork comes into question to avoid damaging the parts during processing. Continuous visual inspection of the look and feel of the parts during processing ensures optimum final products.
Guaranteed perfect fit thanks to a final quality inspection. Besides checking dimensions, all components are subject to a final check as well. After the products have passed specific test sequences they are released or, if necessary, reprocessed.