April 9, 2014

We've seen a few examples of 3D printing in the bicycle industry and and the possibilities that it could hold for the future. Back in January, 2014, Flying Machine, a small company based in Perth, Australia, revealed a titanium bike that features eight titanium "lugs" printed by the CSIRO (Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation), using its $1.3 million 3D printer.

The lugs - small metallic components that join the tubular frame of the bike - are the first 3D-printed parts to feature on a bicycle in Australia. Using EBM (Electron beam melting) technique the 3D printer melts layers of titanium powder to produce a fully dense titanium structure with the same strength as a forged or cast product.

Today CSIRO revealed that a highly anticipated 3D printed bike, dubbed prototype #2, was delivered. In collobration with Flying Machine, designer Sam Froud came up with another 3D printed bike. Same as prototype #1, the lugs of the bike were designed and 3D-printed out of titanium at CSIRO's Melbourne additive manufacturing facility Lab 22.

"3D printing enables us to change each lug fractionally, creating infinite flexibility so that all bikes can have a geometry tailored for each individual's size and riding style." said Flying Machines owner Matthew Andrew.

To create this "bike of the future" Flying Machine used a hybrid of innovative and traditional bicycle manufacturing methods. The personalized geometry provided by 3D printing technology is used to create the titanium frame tubes which are connected by lugs. Lugged frame bicycles were once on the outs in bike making due to limitations with variation in geometry. But 3D printing may revive the lugged-framed bicycle as the technology allows the geometry of all bikes to be customized.

The new bike is "light, stiff, fast and extremely comfortable". Check out the video below that Sam talks about his new bike and watch his first ride.

The company Flying Machines sees itself as a creative hub at the intersection of science and art. They emphasize the importance of creativity, beauty, and innovation in their bicycle designs – as well as efficiency. Flying Machines is interested in the accuracy, low waste, and low invested energy provided by 3D printing – as well as its "green potential."

Flying Machine says the bike parts took only 10 days to produce and ship, compared to 10 weeks for more conventional parts. Now, anyone can own a 3D printed bicycle, made to fit their exact measurements and riding style. Flying Machine plans to begin incorporating the parts across its range of bikes, with prices starting at about $2800.

Images credit: CSIRO

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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