3T will begin manufacturing selected frames in Italy following the success of bringing production of its Torno aero crank in house back in 2018.
Posting to the company’s website, Gerard Vroomen wrote that it has been a long held ambition for 3T ever since it broke cover with its Exploro frame in 2016. The performance cycling business has since ramped up its production capacity to a point where the firm will now embark on domestic manufacturing for its Exploro frames in limited numbers.
By Vroomen’s logic “If we know we can make the best and lightest possible frame in Italy, we know we can make anything. In addition, the volumes required for top-of-the-line frame would be lower. This way we could work on our processes more easily before scaling up.”
The Italian made frames will be manufactured by filament winding, rather than a manual layup and use dry fiber and resin injection, rather than pre-impregnated carbon methods. This has required the firm to make tooling investments for in-house machinery for these processes, but with the kit in place 3T can now create “almost any layup.”
The frames use the same resin injection techniques already deployed in the Torno crank, but does not feature the winding technique, though 3T has experimented with this method.
In avoiding pre-impregnated molds, Vroomen outlines a sustainability benefit with the production method avoiding the relentless cycle of heating and cooling, as well as the need for numerous molds to achieve a volume in production.
“When you use dry fiber, you can stick it into a hot mold and nothing happens. Then you close the mold and inject the resin, at which point the resin starts the curing process. So you can produce frame after frame without having to cool down the mold and heat it up again,” he writes.
Apparently every grade of carbon can be worked with the dry fiber yarn process and by taking the process in house 3T has greater flexibility on the product it produces. In theory, once 3T has nailed the process, there should be a lot less finishing required on frames fresh from the mold.