Feb 3, 2016 | By Alec

Remember the ambitious plans of Dutch startup MX3D to build the world’s first 3D printed steel bridge in Amsterdam? While that bridge won’t be ready until some time in 2017, the Dutch engineers behind that impressive MX3D metal 3D printer have recently given us another taste of what their machine is capable of. Lending their expertise to a team of Dutch students from the Technical University of Delft, the MX3D was used to 3D print a stainless steel bicycle frame. This cool bike was presented at the Dies Natalis of the TU Delft on 8 January, and will also be exhibited during the Matching for new materials - Expanding the horizon conference on 15 February in Neuss, Germany.

If you’ve ever visited the Netherlands, you’ll know that the Dutch just absolutely love their bikes. But this three month research project, which was housed at the Industrial Design Engineering 3D Building FieldLab, was more about metal 3D printing than about building the coolest bike around. As the team explains to us, 3D printing is on the radar of many manufacturing experts already, but rarely as a large volume manufacturing option. “3D printing has exploded in popularity in the last decade but for those wanting to print medium to large scale objects, there are still significant limitations in the technology. This method of 3D printing makes it possible to produce medium to large scale metal objects with almost total form freedom.” Industrial design student Harry Anderson explained.

In order to show exactly what large scale metal 3D printers are capable of, the student team have demonstrated its potential by 3D printing Arc Bicycle, a fully functional 3D-printed stainless steel bicycle, and have tested its strength by cycling through the bumpy cobblestone streets of Delft. And as they explain, The Arc Bicycle did very well. The bike weighs about as much as a regular steel bicycle, and performed just as you would except of a regular bike. “It was important for us to design a functional object that people use every day. Being students in the Netherlands, a bicycle naturally came to mind. A bicycle frame is a good test for the technology because of the complex forces involved,” Stef de Groot explained. The idea is that their research results will be used to 3D print more bicycles in the near future. The project was coordinated by Dr. Jouke Verlinden.

But of course this three-month project wouldn’t have gone anywhere without the help of the Amsterdam-based MX3D. As you might recall, this Amsterdam-based startup specializes in multi-axis 3D printing and has developed a ground-breaking method for using robotic arms to 3D printing – enabling them to 3D print both metals and resins mid air, without the need for support structure. “From small parts to large constructions – with this technology we can 3D print strong, complex structures out of sustainable materials. The MX3D robot can print with metals, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper without the need for support-structures. By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, we are able to print lines in mid air,” the startup says of their machine.

While the planned bridge would be the perfect showcase for this technology, the MX3D team invited the students to use their machine. Not only would it serve as a quick reminder of what the MX3D machine is capable of, it was also a nice project to test their software on. This software has been developed in collaboration with Autodesk and Arcelor Mittal.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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