3D Printed Bicycle Frame Becomes Reality
TAIPEI, Taiwan – It has been described as the new revolution in production technology: 3D print. At Taipei Cycle Show this year, the first 3D printed bicycle frames were already on display.
Recently Renishaw, the UK’s only 3D printing manufacturer using metal parts, and Empire Cycles announced the production of the first 3D printed titanium alloy bicycle frame based on Empire’s MX-6 mountain bike. In a joint project both companies claimed they have created the first 3D printed metal bike frame. The new frame is hollow, with internal strengthening features and is a third lighter than the original, according to a recent report on the 3D printed frame. It was designed using “topological optimisation” which means they used software to distribute the material in the smartest way possible.
New production process
The frame, which is joined to a metal plate when printed, was broken up and bonded together. The printer did not produce a frame in one piece, but only parts which still need to be stuck together by hand. The new production process allows for flexible design improvements and bicycles can be tailored to the size of the rider. Currently the frame and bicycles are being assembled by researchers at Swansea University, who are using strain gauges to measure its performance both in the lab and on in the field.