The cycling industry has experienced a remarkable evolution in recent years, especially through the incorporation of innovative technologies. One of these technologies, 3D printing, has played a particular role in enabling companies such as MagCAD to transform the market through bespoke solutions and products.
MagCAD Designs Ltd, led by Andrew Magnier, a former British National Track Cycling Champion and MEng Aerospace Engineer, combines technical expertise with a passion for cycling. Based in Staffordshire, UK, the company specializes in developing innovative parts and products for bicycles, with 3D printing playing a central role.
Andrew Magnier explains how 3D printing processes support the MagCAD business model, rather than using alternative manufacturing processes: “The 3D printing process is fundamental to our business model. It allows us to react quickly to new opportunities. We can develop, test and validate components in a greatly accelerated timeline. For production, though, it reduces our upfront investment — both in terms of time and cost — compared with more traditional manufacturing methods. It also allows us far greater design freedom for creating complex geometries that are not then subsequently restricted by tooling and traditional manufacturing considerations.”
MagCAD relies on 3DPRINTUK for production. The collaboration began in 2020 when Magnier was looking for a UK-based 3D printing service provider. 3DPRINTUK stood out for its competitive pricing, outstanding part quality and communicative approach.
As Andrew explains: “3DPRINTUK’s instant online pricing model showed us that its costs were very competitive and would scale well with our business. Initial test runs also demonstrated that the quality of parts is outstanding and the 3DPRINTUK team is very communicative and knowledgeable. We found some differences in model processing and printer tolerances but were able to adjust our designs accordingly and were soon able to produce batches of very consistent, reliable parts.”
3DPRINTUK also provides real-time status updates on orders – a feature Andrew particularly appreciates. This allows MagCAD to efficiently manage both its own and its customers’ requirements.
From idea to production
A large proportion of the parts produced by MagCAD have complex geometries that would not be feasible using conventional manufacturing processes.
Andrew Magnier explains more specifically: “A number of our parts include complex locking interfaces and overhangs. Typically these design details can’t be produced in one single piece by injection moulding as the tooling required can’t then release the formed part. We can also 3D print much thicker material compared with most other plastic processes, which usually require thin sections to minimise thermal deformation and shrinkage. In addition, we often get requests to make small modifications to existing designs. Something as simple as increasing the length of a part or adjusting the orientation. Sometimes our customers will spot opportunities to use existing designs in a slightly different way and we’re able to make the necessary changes very quickly. That’s one of the key strengths to the 3D printing process.”
The power of 3D printing is also evident in the customization of existing designs.
Andrew went on to explain how 3D printing supports production on demand for a SME: “Through the growth of our business we’ve seen a number of large unpredictable spikes in demand for particular products, often driven by discussions and customer posts on social media. That means, despite our best efforts, we can very quickly sell out of items that we considered were held in good quantities. Being able to reproduce parts on demand, quickly and reliably, allows us to react to these trends. Rather than being a headache, it’s hugely satisfying when a simple customer post on social media spikes huge interest with other fellow cyclists.”
Quality control is very important to MagCAD and Andrew, and this aligns very well with 3DPRINTUK’s values.
According to Andrew: “MagCAD has a number of processes in place to ensure the level of quality we maintain is particularly high and it’s great to see 3DPRINTUK also prioritise quality as much as we do. Every single component that’s sold directly by us is tested before it’s shipped. I’m an Engineer before anything else so for me the number one priority is quality and we will only supply something which we would be happy purchasing ourselves. And I’m quite particular.”
Another area where MagCAD and 3DPRINTUK align is on lead times and delivery, Andrew explains:
“We try where possible to use the Economy service from 3DPRINTUK. That helps us manage our cost of sales and allows 3DPRINTUK to manage their production schedule better. Through the Economy service we can fulfil most non-stocked orders within 2-3 weeks. We will, however, use the Express service when we’re looking to develop new designs quickly or where demand for particular parts has far exceeded our expectations. With the Express service we can often get a new design iteration from concept to testing within a few days which is exceptional.”
MagCAD faces a promising future, aided by the power of 3D printing. With 3DPRINTUK on their side, they are well positioned to continue delivering high-quality, custom solutions to the cycling market.
Summing up the working partnership, Andrew commented: “We’ve always found the support received from the 3DPRINTUK team to be outstanding. We are able to share knowledge, ask technical questions and get prompt answers to queries. Business is two-way and it’s critical that our expectations are aligned with the 3DPRINTUK team for a successful working partnership, which they are. Working with 3DPRINTUK is a pleasure and we’re very excited to see where we can take the partnership in the near future.”