May 29, 2015 | By Simon

Although it appears that we’ve come a long way with additive manufacturing in the past few years, there is still a long ways to go before the technology can reliably be used to create products that most people today use in their daily lives.

While the ability to create small plastic parts for appliances and other pieces of hardware that may need a replacement part has certainly been in existence for awhile now, the ability to create more advanced products - such as a bicycle - has left a lot to be desired.  

Among others who have looked into the future of creating usable 3d printed goods - particularly the aforementioned bicycle - is the Portland, Oregon - based design firm Industry.

The firm previously designed their Solid 3D printed bicycle during the Oregon Manifest bicycle design competition back in 2014, but it wasn’t until the Connected Conference in Paris this week where the firm’s co-founder and creative director Oved Valadez spoke more openly about the firm’s 3D printing-based approach to the bike’s design, engineering and manufacturing paradigm.   

The Solid - which can be customized to fit a user and is 3D printed out of titanium - includes a host of other features that make it one truly futuristic urban bicycle design.  Designers used Autodesk's Fusion 360 and Alias software to create 3D models, and use 3D printers to create components for the bike. Among other features include the use of connected technology in the bike's handlebars.

"It's the new way. It's more iterated and collaborative. It allows you to quickly bring form and function to the same level," Valadez said. "Unlike 10 years ago, utility and beauty are now one."

Although there are many who would likely line up to buy the Solid if it were to ever hit the market, the bike was made to be a test product for navigating the near-future of design, engineering and manufacturing when the possibilities of customization come into play.    

"The future is about bringing 'personal' back to service," said Valadez during his presentation. “Instead of buying something in size small, medium or large, you'll buy it in ‘size me’".

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard this prediction, either.  Already there are companies focused on leveraging 3D scanning technologies to allow consumers to create their own digital models that can be used to take virtual measurements from for making “near-perfect fit” purchasing decisions without ever having to try on a product.  

"You'll scan yourself with your handheld [phone], and it'll give you a recommendation about what is your perfect size."

While 3D printing certainly has a hand in all of this, advancements in other technologies in the design and manufacturing process - including 3D modeling itself - have helped streamline the process tenfold.  For Valadez and the rest of the design team at Industry, this meant being able to move quickly through the design process and end up with a finished product within weeks rather than months.  

"It's the new way. It's more iterated and collaborative. It allows you to quickly bring form and function to the same level," Valadez said. "Unlike 10 years ago, utility and beauty are now one."

While 3D printing has proven itself time and time again for being a technology of choice for creating prototypes, it’s only a matter of time before it’s used to create the finished products themselves - even those that have more complicated and connected technologies embedded within them such as the Solid from Industry.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Sillvio wrote at 6/8/2015 4:45:35 PM:

I wonder what is the cost for such project? I mean only the frame?

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