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A knowledge-based manufacturing system, established by integrating Rapid Manufacturing, IST and Material Science to improve the Quality of Life of European Citizens through Custom fit Products.

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Motorcyclists are in favour of customising their motorcycle seats according to body geometry. A survey on customisation of motorcycle seats carried out by a European funded project Custom-Fit, found that 81% of the survey respondents support the idea of a customised seat. The Custom-Fit project is investigating new technique for customising a product based on Rapid Manufacturing (RM). RM allows parts to be manufactured directly and automatically using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model. The new technique will enable consumers to buy products that are built to the exact requirements of the consumers. A motorcycle customised according to body geometry is one of the products which the project is investigating. Other possible applications of the new technique include prosthetic sockets, helmets, mandible implants and knee implants. The survey was recently carried out by Loughborough University in UK, who is a partner in the project, and received 3200 responses from motorcyclists worldwide. In the survey, majority of the respondents owned a motorcycle and do not share their motorcycle with another person. Although only half of the respondents said that they had experience of discomfort from their motorcycle seats, but majority felt the discomfort during long distance travelling. In addition, more than half of the respondents are willing to pay a premium for the customised seat and many were willing to wait longer. Professor Richard Hague, Head of the Rapid Manufacturing Research Group in Loughborough University, said: ¿These initial results show that there is wide support for customised goods ¿ even if initially they are more expensive and take longer to produce.¿ The next phase in the project will be to investigate the technical practicality of designing a motorcycle seat based on the scan data of the consumer¿s body profile. Research on how to obtain the body geometry has already started and the project is is now working on defining a ¿comfort map¿, which is a combination of the pressure map and the discomfort zones. This result is used to identify the area on the seat which needs to be redesigned and the new seats will be testes on motorcycles. At the same time, the management issues involved in providing a customisation service for motorcycle seats have also been studied. The project has identified the possible ways to offer the service to the consumers and is studying the supply chain implications of introducing such a service. Visit Custom-Fit at http://www.custom-fit.org/