Oct 5, 2015 | By Alec

Those of you who’ve ever visited the Netherlands, will have noticed that the Dutch are mad about cycling. The Dutch tend to cycle everywhere they go, regardless of the weather, distance, or the three bags of groceries they are carrying around. Amsterdam is famously home to more bikes than people. In that respect, it is hardly surprising that the world’s first do-it-yourself 3D printed bicycle is being designed by two Dutch industrial design students: the OBI, the open bicycle.

The OBI bike is being developed as part of The Bike Project, and is being masterminded by enterprising industrial design students Stef de Groot and Paul De Medeiros. As they explain, the OBI is essentially the bicycle version of all the priniciples held by the making community: it is open source, and they are encouraging everyone to customize, 3D print and build their own versions of the OBI.

What’s more, the open source design enables you to recreate one of these bikes for just around €400 (or approximately $450 USD) – cheaper than actually buying a new bike. ‘It is unique because parts of it are made with a desktop 3D printer and it will also be the first truly modular bicycle. This means that every part can easily be removed and replaced, without the need of any (expensive!) specialised tools or skills,’ they write. ‘We believe in the power of open source design. Once we have created the first working bicycle, all our designs will be made available for anyone to improve, change or inspire.’ And as Paul explains in an interview with Autodesk, they are nearing the completion of their first functional prototype.

The idea itself was born out of a desire to make 3D printers add an extra dimension to the owner’s daily life. After all, we’ve all experienced that slump after 3D printing the initial smartphone covers, bottle openers and pot planters. To really add an extra dimension, you need to add value to your build. ‘With The Bike Project, we wanted to make a major push towards a future we believe in; where anyone with access to a 3D printer and internet, will be able to manufacture tools/products that they will use in their everyday lives, and that those around them can use in their everyday lives,’ student Paul says to reporters. And being two Dutch guys cycling everywhere, the choice was easily made. They hope that this 3D printed version of the bike will change the perspectives of what a bicycle is, what it can be and how the owner interacts with it.

The promising designs for this hopefully functional (and safe) OBI bicycle were initially made in SolidWorks (which both used during their studies), though they switched to Fusion 360 pretty quickly. This switch was born out of a desire to minimize the amount of plastic used and to make the bike look as organic as possible – not features SolidWorks is especially known for. ‘What has kept us in Fusion 360 is the ease of use (we learned how to use it in a few days, rather than weeks), the great tools for collaboration (no longer linking files after a transfer via USB stick), version control and cloud access to files. The workflow is incredibly streamlined in Fusion,’ they say about the design experience.

They further add that Fusion 360’s dropfolder on the cloud has greatly improved their collaboration, something more often heard about cloud-based design in groups. ‘Now we have all our files in one Fusion 360 folder. We still divide the design up in parts, but we’re no longer afraid to open up each other’s files, snoop around to see each other’s progress or measure up the size of a part,’ Paul says.

In the coming months, the two industrious students will hopefully come up with the final, functioning bicycle that will be safe to use in traffic. In their own estimate, they will need one more subsequent iteration to reach that point. Before that, they are still working hard to improve the geometry of the bicycle and to optimize the design of the frame to make it more durable and cost efficient. Hopefully, this means we can start seeing a 3D printed bike on the streets of Amsterdam some time around 2016. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications





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Sidley wrote at 10/13/2015 4:57:39 PM:

Well duh I can get a real bicycle cheaper.

Paul de Medeiros wrote at 10/5/2015 12:40:35 PM:

Great writeup Alec! You hit the spot in conveying the core concept behind our project. It's nice to see a positive response from your community coming in via our website as well :) Keep an eye out for our next email update, coming soon!

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