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Using 3D printing to accelerate innovation in bike safety

Guardian Bikes — a company focused on manufacturing the world’s safest kid’s bicycles — uses Robo’s 3D printers to quickly develop and test its celebrated SURESTOP braking technology.

How 3D printing plays an essential role in product iteration

More and more, we see how cutting-edge technology allows companies to enter the marketplace with niche concepts, new ideas and thoughtfully-crafted products aimed to revolutionize and positively disrupt their related categories.

Their leaders are often resourceful individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset, who channel innovative methodologies to usher their ideas toward physical, tangible products — equally impactful as they are useful to the end consumer.

Their internal processes rely on speed and efficiency to ensure timely execution of a product’s design and production cycle to gain faster mass market adoption.

Utilizing Robo 3D printers to quickly iterate concepts for their SURESTOP braking technology — a tiered, one-lever component braking system on a bicycle that uses the rear brake force to activate the front brake and provide a safer, more uniform stop — Guardian Bikes elevated their brand as a leader in bicycle safety for children and adults with an eventual investment from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank.

An unfortunate event that led to inspiration

Guardian Bikes founder, Brian Riley, had inspiration for his SURESTOP braking technology when an unfortunate accident hit close to home. Years ago, his grandfather engaged his bicycle’s front brake too hard during an emergency stop and was thrown over the handlebars — landing on his head and suffering several broken vertebrae in his neck.

His grandfather recovered, but Riley was compelled to prevent others from having the same experience: He had to figure out a way to eliminate this type of accident.

The slow drip of trial and error before 3D printing

Riley experienced a significant amount of trial and error early on while prototyping his SURESTOP braking technology. In 2009, consumer 3D printing wasn’t a viable or affordable option. He inevitably leaned on traditional machining and prototyping processes to bring his idea to life as he fleshed out the inner workings of the component braking system.

Even with those advanced resources at hand, prototyping iterations for the parts involved too much time and were expensive. He also had to factor in material preparation, making fixtures, and programing the CNC machine — all slow points in an outdated process that has made many early companies go bankrupt.

“We finally developed a market-ready product, but it took us several years and probably 50 different product iterations,” Riley said. “This whole process would have gone much faster if 3D printing was where it is at today.”

Accelerating innovation one print at a time

When Guardian Bikes finally ushered its SURESTOP braking technology to market, they still had the mighty task of creating integration solutions for a wider range of bicycles. This is where 3D printing became the answer they were seeking.

After researching 3D printer brands and models that fit their specific needs, Riley and his co-founders settled on Robo’s 3D printers — relying on their dependable feature sets, accessible price point and the consistency of print.

They also liked how it was built by a team of young innovators straight out of college — just like them.

“Robo printers really helped us take the concept of our technology off the design software platform we use and begin working it as a physical object within one day,” Riley said. “We could make our print and immediately throw it on the bike to actually see how it worked and fit.”

Critical thinking enhanced by efficiency

While 3D printing made it easier for Guardian Bikes to expand their SURESTOP braking technology quickly, also appreciates how Robo 3D printers helped change his mindset relating to product development.

“3D printing really gets you thinking about so many other touchpoints of a product’s functionality once you’ve physically made something you’ve been thinking about,” Riley said. “There’s so much more that I love about it — that speed of taking an idea and iterating out problems to create something that actually works, and how it allows you to devise concepts quickly and make product improvements in a matter of days instead of months.

Traditional Prototyping Methods 3D Printing
Cost $820 per part $19 per part
Time 14 days less than 1 day

New Robo 3D printers provide an additional layer of support

In addition to Guardian Bikes original Robo R1+, they also have a network of Robo C2 and Robo R2 smart 3D printers at its disposal for product prototyping. The advanced feature sets and functionalities in both machines — including ease of use and wireless connectivity — give the company a stronger foothold in developing their next big idea.

“As the machines evolve, things keep getting better and better,” Riley said. “With Robo C2 and Robo R2, anyone in the company can use them and quickly get up to speed with how they work, even if they don’t have experience with 3D printing. You pretty much hit print, the machine runs and you come back a couple hours later to find your part sitting there. It’s awesome!”

Robo recommendations

Robo 3D printers give innovators and entrepreneurs at all levels powerful new ways to bring ideas to life and products to market with speed and efficiency.

Big ideas are no longer at the mercy of slow, outdated processes. Companies can more easily make necessary product changes happen in a matter of days instead of months, and then implement them while creating new paths of opportunity and success — all through 3D printing.

Combined with the robust feature sets of Robo 3D printers, accessible price points also play an important role for businesses looking to incorporate 3D printing into their workflow.

Businesses that rely on more streamlined methods related to product ideation, iteration and market delivery will benefit greatly by incorporating Robo products into their develop and product delivery practices. Given the current price of outsourcing prototyping, it’s easily justifiable to purchase 3D printers instead, and do the work in-house since they will pay for themselves by forgoing the older method of prototyping.

About Robo

Robo is the future of 3D printing, and that future is now — whose goal is to give makers of all ages and skills levels the tool needed to help turn their passion into a physical reality, as quickly and as easily as possible.

Founded in 2012 by a group of students from San Diego State University, Robo delivered its first model to customers in 2013. Since then, the company has grown into a leading brand in the desktop segment of the 3D printing industry.

Robo is based in sunny San Diego and continues to improve the total experience of 3D printing with its diverse range of products — most recently with the launch of the Robo C2 compact smart 3D printer with Wi-Fi and the Robo R2 highperformance 3D printer with Wi-Fi.


Guardian Bikes, California USA


Similar to anti-lock brakes in cars, Guardian Bikes developed SureStop, a revolutionary new braking system for bikes that not only eliminate the dangers of going over the handlebars, it allows bikes to stop much faster and safer than ever before.

Benefits of 3D printing

Rapid prototyping, cost reduction, variation exploration


Innovation, Entrepreneurship
Small-Medium Business

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