Case Study

A start-up competes in the big leagues


Versatile design software helps a small Spanish company create some of the most advanced and unique exercise equipment on the market today

Starting with serious cyclists

Cardgirus is a young Spanish company with the goal of becoming a leading developer of cardiovascular training equipment. The company’s first product is a stationary bicycle designed for serious cyclists. “It’s not for those who go to a fitness center to ride a stationary bicycle,” explains Mauricio Eskubi, product development director at Cardgirus. “Our product features a road bicycle’s dimensions, saddle and handlebar as well as intelligent software adapted to the needs of cyclists so they can train at home in bad weather instead of having to go out on the road.”

Powerful software allows personalized training sessions, even including taking part in famed competitions such as the Tour de France. “When someone gets on the bicycle for the first time, the program runs a test and measures his or her physical level,” Eskubi says. “It’s a personal trainer.” The company is also developing a video game that can be installed on the bicycle (or on an external PC connected to the bicycle) that lets the rider take part in competitions. Added realism comes from the fact that the game features actual courses and riders can see themselves on the screen.

Expanding to fitness centers

Cardgirus’ plan is to market its products, which will also include a rower and an elliptical bicycle, to fitness centers. “Our original product is very good, but it has a limited market, so we now want to take advantage of the software we have developed to gain a foothold in the fitness center market,” Eskubi says. In doing this, Cardgirus is seeking to expand its product line to include equipment geared more for mass consumption, without sacrificing quality and innovation. Its advantage is a combination that is unique in the market. “There are bicycles and video games of this nature on the market, but none of them unites both aspects,” says Eskubi.

Because Cardgirus will be competing against major global manufacturers, its founders wanted the best possible product development tools. They chose NX™ design automation software, which Eskubi was familiar with from his previous work. “We decided to obtain latest-generation machines and software because, these days, it’s fundamental to move fast,” he explains. “We wanted the best design tool on the market, a program that wouldn't cause us problems and one we knew wouldn't just disappear tomorrow.”

Pushing past previous limits

Cardgirus’ first stationary bicycle, created years earlier, had been designed with CAD software that had limited functionality, and this had hampered development efficiency. “With NX, we wanted to do all the things we couldn't do in the past because of limitations inherent in the program we were using, especially related to designing surfaces.” From Eskubi’s previous experience, he knew NX could handle this task. “NX is one of the most powerful programs, especially when it comes to mechanical design,” he says.

The company acquired four NX licenses originally and has just obtained a fifth. The NX implementation was performed by Siemens PLM Software. The users adapted to it easily. Cardgirus also appreciates the improvements introduced in new versions of NX, finding them to be well suited to designers’ needs.

Enhancing products through design modifications

Among the many advantages NX affords, its simplicity when it comes to making design modifications is particularly useful to Cardgirus. “The program lets us make changes very quickly, especially small modifications,” Eskubi notes. “In the past year and a half, we've made up to two prototypes of each apparatus and the last design is quite different from the first. Between three and four variations of each machine were realized before we ended up with the final design.

“With the Siemens PLM Software solution we’re able to draw and simulate everything on the computer, something we couldn't do before with other programs,” he adds. “This offers considerable advantages, especially when it comes to making plastic molds.” For Eskubi, it was fundamental to have a program that would make it possible to “send providers exactly what we have designed.”

Cardgirus is using NX to design the exercise equipment as well as some assembly tools. The company has been incorporating additional NX modules, such as motion analysis and wiring applications. It intends to acquire the human module in the near future to not only better visualize ergonomics but also to analyze loads on every part of the body. Eskubi notes, “NX is worth the investment.”

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