Manufacturing facility Tour: Ibis’ New Carbon Development Facility in Pajaro, California


Why the New Ibis Exie Was Developed at House

Laptop modeling at house after which handing off your body configuration and carbon layup schedules to a trusted contractor in a faraway land will certainly get your bike within the ballgame. At this time’s plethora of 30-pound path bikes bear witness to that. If you’d like a 22-pound path bike, nonetheless, you’ll want empirical knowledge. Which means constructing and breaking prototypes – numerous them – as a way to uncover precisely the place on the bicycle you’ll be able to safely take away these eight kilos and nonetheless hit related efficiency targets. That course of begins with the body and that is the place biking’s design-and-source mannequin breaks down.

Carbon building in Asia has develop into

institutionalized. Understandably, factories are sometimes unwilling to deviate from their time-proven manufacturing processes, which makes it tough to develop new strategies or supplies. Turnaround instances for creating and testing prototypes can take weeks, even months, which compounds efforts to flesh out new ideas, or to provide a product that may considerably outperform the established order. It may be achieved, however…

Ibis has trusted contractors in Asia that they plan to maintain busy for the foreseeable future. That stated, there have been compelling causes to develop and manufacture the Exie on house soil. Constructing a manufacturing unit from the bottom up would provide Ibis a possibility to scrutinize each step of the method to find methods to save lots of vitality and cut back labor. Brief turnarounds between constructing and testing prototypes would encourage experimentation and will dramatically speed up product growth. Having everybody below one roof promised to fast-track the artistic course of and would shortly reveal weak hyperlinks within the manufacturing chain.

As a result of we are able to make prototype frames right here, we are able to mildew a brand new body layup and take a look at it within the lab in lower than every week. So, we realized quite a bit in a comparatively brief time. If we needed to rely on our Asian producers, the turnaround for prototypes would have taken a month or extra.Hans Heim

All can be for naught, nonetheless, if Ibis didn’t slash the extraordinary quantity of labor required to provide a carbon dual-suspension chassis. Relying upon its complexity, Ibis’ Asian distributors dedicate as much as 86 man-hours to mildew and end one body. The price of residing in and about Santa Cruz tops most US cities, so Ibis would wish to work a small miracle to maintain its made-in-USA merchandise competitively priced.

Child steps: Someday round 2014, Ibis constructed a small carbon building and testing lab of their Santa Cruz headquarters to do exactly that. The plan was to fabricate size-small Ripley frames (entrance triangles, truly) as a feasibility research for a future full-scale manufacturing facility.

Ibis crushed numerous carbon browsing the educational curve, however in the end, their funding resulted in a brand new building course of that halved each vitality and labor prices. By 2018, Ripley frames have been coming out of the molds and into manufacturing, and Hans Heim had bought the constructing that may develop into the birthplace of Exie.
Nearly Native

Ongoing cost-is-no-object bidding wars between the State College and a dozen world tech companies for industrial house in Santa Cruz compelled Ibis to go looking elsewhere for an appropriate manufacturing unit location. As luck would have it, Hans Heim discovered a constructing a half-hour’s drive south of headquarters close to Watsonville.

Idyllically situated close to the Pacific Ocean on agricultural land, the Pajaro manufacturing unit was initially constructed and outfitted to be a terminal for an undersea fiber-optic cable. Plans modified, nonetheless, and the telecommunications company by no means occupied the ability. Hans stated {that a} substantial a part of the fee to re-purpose the constructing was paid for by recycling 60 thousand {dollars} of copper wire and promoting off the back-up generator. It was as massive as a diesel locomotive and will have provided electrical energy to a small metropolis. Ibis then transformed the constructing to function utterly upon solar energy.

At this time, the manufacturing unit is staffed and prepared for motion. Nearly all facets of manufacturing happen in a single massive house to encourage interplay. Layup and molding stations are located alongside two of the partitions. The aluminum molds have been developed by Ibis and are self-heating and pressure-regulated by computerized management facilities. A bonus to their system is a seamless workflow. Groups of two will lay up a body after which shut it within the mildew. Whereas that one is curing, they merely transfer over to the following mildew station and start laying up one other body.

Cross the room and as you enter the standard management and testing lab, you’ll cross a desk stacked with pattern frames in varied states of destruction. As a result of testing reveals the standard of everybody’s work, most staff present as much as watch when the engineers run impression checks – it’s the nerd model of huck to flat. The lab is outfitted to breed trade normal checks and take a look at samples are pulled from manufacturing to guarantee there are not any ongoing high quality issues.
Stations for the composite layup engineers are centrally situated to allow them to look over the shoulders of the technicians and see first-hand if there are points (like bunching or crinkling of the carbon layers as they’re positioned across the mandrels) that may very well be solved by modifying the method. Ibis engineer Sara Passantino defined that almost all frames are laid up utilizing numerous varied sized rectangular formed strips of carbon – averaging 300 items or extra to wrap one entrance triangle. Her first process was to create shapes that may naturally conform to the body’s contours, which each improved the power of the frames and diminished the variety of carbon items to 120.
Additional reductions in labor have been constructed into the molding course of to remove as many ending steps as doable. Inside cable and hose tubes, pivot factors, and bearing areas are molded in place to completed dimensions. When Exie frames emerge from the curing course of, they require miniscule quantities of sanding, primarily to remove mildew parting traces, however in any other case seem able to assemble. Exie swingarms are molded in proper and left halves, then bonded collectively in a second operation. To save lots of weight and remove an expensive and environmentally unfriendly step, Exie frames should not painted. The carbon is left for all to see, below heat-transfer decals and guarded by a ceramic coating lower than a thousandth of an inch thick (.025mm).

The Kestrel Connection

Ibis efficiently diminished the man-hours required to construct a dual-suspension carbon body from 86 to 35 hours – a determine that made it doable to maneuver ahead into full manufacturing. A lot of that effectivity could be attributed to Ibis’ earlier expertise with composites and the simplifications and enhancements of their manufacturing course of. With out an skilled employees, nonetheless, the Exie undertaking would have been way more problematic to launch. Enter the Kestrel connection.

Preston Sandusky, the boss of Ibis’ carbon manufacturing, was a co-owner of Kestrel – a pioneer of molded carbon fiber bicycle body manufacturing. Kestrel’s facility was situated close to Santa Cruz, as have been numerous aerospace

composite manufactures – all of which had been shuttered earlier than Ibis bought into the sport. Hans Heim was a fan of Kestrel bikes, so when the time got here to construct a manufacturing unit, he reached out to Preston, who then reassembled the perfect of his earlier crew to assist launch the undertaking. Whether or not your manufacturing unit is in Asia or the USA, success in the end is determined by an skilled workforce. As Ibis expands manufacturing, there can be a pool of gifted locals ready to hitch up.

Will Ibis Succeed?

With the debut of their Pajaro manufacturing unit, Ibis joins North America’s small, however rising group of composite bicycle and accent producers. No one, together with the likes of Trek and Enve, is cranking out big numbers, however the mixed efforts of all gamers have assimilated sufficient momentum to show no doubt that producers right here can compete with Asian-made merchandise within the high-performance section of the biking enterprise.

Hans says that Ibis has no plans to shift all of its manufacturing to the US. “Exie and the Pajaro facility are one leg of our three legged chair,” he explains. “We’d like our distributors in Asia to guarantee that now we have the amount to serve our clients, however the pandemic has taught us that issues can change pretty quickly, so we’ll survive higher if we don’t have all of our eggs in a single basket.”

Pajaro Experiment

RIP Luis
Luis Valerio was a buddy and worker of Preston Sanduski at Kestrel who signed on to begin Ibis’ Ripley undertaking again in 2014. He was additionally instrumental in founding the Pajaro manufacturing unit. Sadly, Luis misplaced his life to Covid 19 at house whereas the manufacturing unit was closed in the course of the peak of the pandemic. Ibis continues to be reeling from this surprising tragedy.

For now, Ibis’s timing couldn’t be higher. World Cup XC racing is gathering momentum. Core riders are rediscovering the enjoyment of driving light-weight, tremendous succesful cross-country machines. Maybe extra telling is that bicycle costs are rising at a quicker fee than wages within the USA, and monetary soothsayers predict that inflation goes to speed up that pattern, particularly for imported gadgets. Making their upper-end vary at house might offset a few of these worth will increase for US clients and in the end make Ibis extra competitively priced within the European market. Solely time will inform, but it surely’s clear that Ibis has achieved their homework and all alerts look like inexperienced for the Exie rollout. We want them the perfect.



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