Jun.14, 2012

Toronto based industrial designer Andrew Leinonen wanted to make his own bike frame. One big advantage of making your own bicycle frame is you will be able to choose geometry and extras as you want.

Normally if you make a bike you need to calculate how much it will cost to fabricate a jig, the tools for frame building and the materials for the bicycle frame itself. And if you add all the cost up you need to have at least $600 prepared. But Andrew wanted to "design a process for building bicycles that allowed an enthusiast to spend less overhead, less time on finicky details, and put the emphasis on actually designing and making a bike that you want to ride."

So the basics of what he does is using CAD and 3D printing to build custom lug sockets to define geometry and then have standard tubes inserted. This process allows totally custom geometry and makes possible for people to build themselves a unique custom bicycle with unparalleled design flexibility.

The lugs are 3D printed using ABS on a desktop 3D printer, in his case, an UP! 3D printer from pp3dp. "The resolution, part quality, accuracy and ability to print support material very easily made it perfectly suitable for the needs of this project". And of course other 3D printers such as MakerBot, RepRaps or Ultimaker can do the same job.

Then the printed ABS lugs are bonded to aluminum frame tubes and reinforced with carbon fiber and epoxy. "3D printed pieces can also be used to create 2-part molds for the carbon fiber lug reinforcements, improving both strength and appearance." Additionally, since the tubes are bonded and reinforced with carbon fiber and epoxy, Andrew claims that "you can use whatever material you'd like for the tubing – aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, titanium, or bamboo!"

"My goal was to shift away from being restricted by the materials required by the tools, and instead enable you to realize your personal creative vision for what you want your bike to be." notes Andrew.

He documented the entire project in detail at Instructables, so it should be interesting to follow all of his steps and build your own carbon fiber bike frame at home. He points out that, "when following these instructions and building your frame, think critically and safely and design conservatively."

See a few photos from his construction process below, and check out the Instructables for more information.

So what do you think of this frame design? Andrew is very comfortable with the test ride and it should be interesting to see how others deviate on this concept.

Images credit / Source: Instructables

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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