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A uniquely shaped part, portraying the component opportunities when combining additive manufacturing, simulation and innovative design has picked up the Casting of the Year Award from the American Foundry Society.

“It took Tooling & Equipment International (TEI) of Livonia, Michigan, just three weeks to design, cast, clean, heat treat, machine and inspect a motorcycle swingarm so uniquely complex it looks more like a spiderweb sculpture than a vehicle part,” says Shannon Wetzel, managing editor of Modern Casting magazine at the AFS.

The component was designed by Autodesk using its generative design software Dreamcatcher, which optimised the material geometry to given constraints and load conditions. The resulting casting provides the ultimate performance characteristics with the minimum weight. Prototype casting shop, TEI cast and machined the part in three weeks using 3D printed sand technology and extensive simulation. The casting, heat treatment and machining were all carried out on one site which minimised timing.

“We were given an extremely tough time scale to meet, and given the geometry, that was a bit of a challenge,” said Oliver Johnson, president of TEI. “We had at best two shots to get this thing right, and we got a good part the first time.”

The swingarm is for the Lightning LS-218 motorcycle produced by Lightning Motorcycle. The intricate yet robust part replaces a three-part billet machined into a box section. The design reduced the mass of the swingarm by ten per cent while increasing torsional and bending stiffness. The organic shape hints at the future of metal casting and the growing opportunities for the industry from additive manufacturing methods.

The award was presented on 5th April at the AFS Metal Casting Congress in Fort Worth, Texas (US).

For more information on how TEI overcame various challenges to produce the casting view Shannon Wetzel’s detailed article at:

For more information on TEI visit: