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6 August 2007 PR 07/105

Bikers show support for customised products

A €16 million project aimed at utilising the capabilities of Rapid Manufacturing (RM) to make fully customised products has released the results of a survey into the popularity of tailor-made goods.

Custom-Fit is an industry led project with the aim of creating a fully integrated system for the design, production and supply of individualised custom-products using the latest RM technologies. RM allows physical parts to be created immediately, directly and automatically from a 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) model. It works by breaking down a 3D model into 2D sections, which are built up layer by layer by high tech machines.

Loughborough University is one of the key academic partners on Custom-Fit. Its Rapid Manufacturing Research Group is recognised as a world leader in the field of RM.
The project, which is being funded by the EU under the Sixth Framework Programme, will focus on the customisation of four main products to demonstrate the technology. These are: motorcycle seats, helmets, medical implants and prostheses.

The research team recently completed a survey on made-to-measure motorcycle seats, in partnership with a leading international motorcycle manufacturer. The survey was carried out to assess motorcyclists’ attitudes towards customised seats and it received more than 3,200 responses from across the world. The survey showed that 81% were in favour of made-to-measure seats, despite only half of the respondents saying they experienced discomfort when riding their motorbikes. However the majority said they did experience discomfort when travelling long distances.

In addition more than half of the respondents were willing to pay a higher price for a customised seat, and many also said they would be prepared to wait longer for the product.

Professor Richard Hague is head of the University’s Rapid Manufacturing Research Group, based in the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Speaking about the survey he said: “These initial results show that there is wide support for the introduction of customised goods – even if initially they are more expensive and take longer to produce.”

The next phase of the project will involve investigating the technical practicality of designing a motorcycle seat based on scan data from the consumer’s body profile. Research on how to obtain the body geometry has already started, and work is now taking place on defining a ‘comfort map’. This will show where the pressure points and discomfort zones are on existing motorcycle seats and will help identify the areas of the seat that need to be redesigned. The customised seat will eventually be tested on motorbikes.

ENDS

For all media enquiries contact:

  1. The Custom-Fit project involves 33 partners from around Europe.
  2. For further information about the project visit: http://www.custom-fit.org or contact Asuncion Martinez E: customfit@aiju.info T: +34 965554475
  3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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