Oct 26, 2017 | By Benedict

ORBITREC, a customizable 3D printed bike with metal parts made using generative design and lattice structures, is almost ready for commercialization. XON's IoT-connected bicycle gathers data from its environment to improve performance, and was first seen at CES 2016.

After taking a look at the Volkswagen-made Kinazo ENDURO e1 electric bicycle yesterday, we’re aiming to make it two 3D printed bikes in two days. Today’s two-wheeled beast is the ORBITREC, an IoT-connected vehicle with 3D printed lattice structures around its joint areas.

You might have heard of it. Way back in January 2016, the outlandish ORBITREC turned heads at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, where industrial designer Satoshi Yanagisawa was showing off his two-wheeled creation to a stunned audience.

Now, as Yanagisawa puts the finishing touches on the ORBITREC, he is preparing to sell the 3D printed bike under the XON brand of Cerevo Inc.

But it’s been a long journey for the 3D printed ORBITREC bike, with many difficult climbs, sprints, and tricky corners. Go back far enough, and Yanagisawa almost never became an industrial engineer at all: at first, he wanted to study video and film, but soon had his head turned by the world of industry.

Even when Yanagisawa settled into his current profession, the ORBITREC didn’t suddenly spring into existence. It actually evolved from a previous 3D printed bike frame design, the DFM01. A joint creation by DMM.make AKIBA, ABBALab, and Yanagisawa’s own Triple Bottom Line studio, the DFM01 was an experimental attempt at a titanium 3D printed bicycle frame.

The DFM01 comprised a frame only, but by 2016 the design had become the ORBITREC, a complete and wildly functional 3D printed bike, fitted with multiple sensors, IoT connectivity, and some out-there engineering choices.

For serious riders, it’s perhaps the bike's sensing ability that will be seen as more of a draw than its 3D printed construction.

“We came up with a plan to use the environmental data the bicycle takes in to continue iterating on its design in an agile development cycle that would continue even after the bicycle goes on sale,” Yanagisawa told Autodesk.

The futuristic cycle contains a nine-axis sensor that measures acceleration, angular velocity, and geomagnetism. It’s also equipped with sensors for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and illumination, as well as GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Over time, however, even the near-complete ORBITREC underwent design changes—largely to accommodate the troublesome task of finding a 3D printer capable of fabricating the bike’s dense metal components.

“Every time we thought we had overcome the limitations of the shapes and materials that could be used with the 3D printer, another hurdle appeared before us,” Yanagisawa recalled. “We were told that the initial costs to make just one pedal axle would cost 4 million yen [$36,000].”

After encountering sintering problems with the metal 3D printers they were using, Yanagisawa’s team realized it could redesign some sections of the bike to make them easier to print, much lighter, but just as strong.

Inspired by an aerospace white paper, the solution was generative design and gapped, 3D printed lattice structures, created using Autodesk Within (Netfabb). And since the Yanagisawa’s partner factory was already using Within, realizing the design was a breeze.

“At first, the lattice construction was used in just the head joint and then the bottom bracket joint, and we added more further into the frame’s interior,” Yanagisawa said. “Ultimately, lattice structures were incorporated throughout the interiors of the bottom bracket and other parts.”

The current iteration of the ORBITREC bicycle is as light as market-leading full-carbon bikes, only with many more tricks up its sleeve thanks to its IoT powers.

The bike is currently undergoing simulations and road tests, and could be available to buy in the near future. Each bike will be fully customized to the rider.

Most importantly, Yanagisawa is confident that riders will enjoy getting on the ORBITREC as much as CES attendees enjoyed looking at it: “Those who have test-ridden our bikes have praised initial rides as ‘heavenly,’” he said.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive