World's First 3D Printed Bike

Feb 14, 2014 at 8:01
Feb 14, 2014
by Andy Waterman  
 
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Without doubt, the most interesting bike at this weekend’s London Bike Show is Empire’s 3D printed titanium trail bike. Based on the brand’s innovative 6in-travel aluminium MX6, the titanium prototype is a collaboration with additive manufacturing firm Renishaw and was built in the UK. We spoke to Empire’s Chris Williams about the project, and about 3D printing’s likely role in the future of the bike industry.

Worlds First 3D printed Bike

The version on display was purely for show, but a rideable version has now been built and will be ridden in the coming weeks



The version on display at the show isn't rideable, but it had just come back from lab testing in Germany, where, Williams tells Pinkbike, “We tested the seat tower and surpassed the standard by six times, and that gave us the confidence to build the rest of the structure which we’re now going to test properly and ride. It’s genuinely the first time this has been done."

While we’ve seen 3D printing used in the bike industry before, notably on Charge's titanium dropouts, this is the first time a complete frame has been built in this way.

All the parts of the bike are built on one block, then bonded together.



bigquotes The complete bike is made up from nine separate components. Each component is designed to fit with a 250mm square build area no higher than 300mm, so we've tried to keep them as big as possible, then make a bonded joint on the end of each part that is designed to keep the adhesive within the joint.
- Chris Williams

“What I’ve done here is rather than building a small component that fits into the build area many times” says Williams, “I’ve taken large components and broken them into smaller pieces to fit into the build area. I think we’ll see more of this in the future. This is the very forefront of it, because I started this project six months ago, and the other week Renishaw told me that if I’d approached them six months earlier, they would have had to decline the project. It’s such cutting edge technology.”

3D printing makes the prototype frame 1400 grams, 700 grams lighter than the aluminium MX6 without forfeiting strength, thanks to topological optimization of the structures.

Six months to build a frame probably sounds like quite a long time to you or I, but in engineering terms, it’s nothing. “We were starting from nothing” says Williams, “there’s nothing in the world like this, so we were starting from scratch so I think that timing is actually very quick. And to go to a rideable product that quickly is unheard of.”



All the components on the bike have a nominal wall thickness of 1mm, including the seat tower which looks like it’s a solid piece of metal but is actually hollow. “You can create structures that you can’t create in any other way” says Williams. “You can’t cast them, you can’t mill them because they’re hollow. You have to really change the way that you think in terms of your design to get something that works and is optimised for the process.”

The way the material is laid down creates a strange feel, looking somewhat like a carving with its soft finish. The seat mast on the right is completely hollow



At present the process uses titanium, but Renishaw is now working on transferring the process to aluminium. “Aluminium is a little bit tricky” says Williams, “because it reflects a lot of the energy of the laser, so you need a higher powered laser and a more expensive machine.”

Williams says that the current prototype is a showcase of what Empire and Renishaw are able to do, but that in the future it may make sense to create some type of hybrid structure, utilizing 3D printing for some parts whilst using more traditional methods for other parts.

Williams describes the project as a showcase for what both Empire and Renishaw are able to do. Also, notice the bonds on the tubes - a result of having to fit the manufacturing process into a small volume bloc



“We’ve always done things that are different, but we’ve always been upfront about it”, he says. “This is a showcase and a learning experience for everyone involved. It may well be that we end up with a hybrid structure of titanium and carbon components, we don’t know, but we’re never going to know until we try. This is just my first take - not how it should be, but how it could be.”

It's unlikely you'll see Empire's 3D printed Ti trail bike in a bike shop near you any time soon, but it's an incredible project and gives us a fantastic glimpse of the future of bike manufacturing. For the time being though, Empire are concentrating on selling their equally innovative MX6, a UK made 6in-travel trail bike that easily swaps between 26in and 650b wheelsizes and comes in at under £1000 frame only.

For the moment, anyone wanting to try an Empire will have to make to with the British designed and manufactured aluminium MX6


empire-cycles.com
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194 Comments

  • + 211
 That awkward moment when you have a great idea for a thesis and a couple of months later you go on pinkbike and someone's done it...
[Reply]
  • - 64
 #epicfail bro ¡¡
[Reply]
  • + 8
 That's what happens with good ideas, but knowing to stop you doing it too
[Reply]
  • + 16
 What is Innovation???

It's simple...

I see it first...
[Reply]
  • + 104
 That awkward moment when you realize you're too stupid to be an engineer.
[Reply]
  • + 25
 the First 3d printed bike was made two years ago in the uk anyway… www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12664422
[Reply]
  • + 13
 amazing to see it done with titanium though, shows how fast the technology has progressed.
[Reply]
  • + 23
 Well, additive manufacturing or "3d printing" has been around for well over 30 years, so not sure how fast its really progressing Razz Besides, titanium is cool, but the impressive stuff is the printing of bones from a scan, out of biological materials. That will probably change mountain biking more than printing bikes!
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Man this is absolutely amazing. Does anyone realize how much this bike costs?!? It costs me $100 to 3D print a 4"x4" cube using the powder based printers at my school. Full bike out of titanium?! The cost of this probably blows a Trek 9.9 out of the water x10.
[Reply]
  • + 20
 When VCRs first came out they were like $1200.
[Reply]
  • - 10
 its the materials not the printer themselves that cost alot. You can buy home use 3d printers for under $10k easily. its the solid block of titanium or whatever other material you use that will hurt the pocketbook.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 The struggle is real; this happened to me last week as well. Dual chamber tire system sound like a useful senior project? Schwalbe did it.
[Reply]
  • + 13
 prestonDH that is completely false. In the case of a Replicator 2, the materials cost close to nothing. If you are using a powder based printer it cost about $8 per cubic inch of material (at least where I print my things, NOT metal powder). You CAN buy a $10K home 3D printer, you'll get a tiny bed and will absolutely NOT be able to print metal. Titanium 3D printers most likely cost between $100,000 and $1,000,000, thats not to say the material itself isn't expensive but it costs much less than the cost of the printer. Also I have no idea what you mean about a solid block of titanium, this isn't a CNCed bike from a solid block of material, it's 3D printed with titanium powder.

Here is an article about the costs of metal 3D printing:

www.techhive.com/article/217015/titanium_printer_lets_you_make_your_own_overpriced_3d_printed_parts.html
[Reply]
  • + 1
 1) Figure out how to do this in an affordable way, (or some other yet to be discovered cool feature, such as: An easy proces for people to measure their body sizes at home, indicate their riding style, and have your system create them a custom made bike)
2) Graduate,
3) Sell your thesis to Empire, or start your own company ;-)
[Reply]
  • + 5
 @hamncheese- I purchased my first CD burner drive in 1999-2000 for around $400! Installed it in my computer and was stoked to be able to burn discs! Now they're an afterthought included with every computer and laptop. The first calculator covered hundreds of square feet of office space!

This seems unnecessary now but it may lead to great things.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Talking about ideas?
Here is one:
Let's custom frame our bikes like how we are custom shelling/fitting our ski boots.
Boom, this comes out three years from now if no one had the idea before Smile
[Reply]
  • + 4
 L0rdTom: The reason why we are seeing an explosion of 3D printing is due to the expiration of a number of key patents. Which is a very good thing.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love it , clean and cool ,
[Reply]
  • + 0
 LOL at you frdh! Were you thinking that someone like PrestonDH who'd make such a stupid & clueless comment would actually go & read that article & learn something?

I'm not convinced of the value here. I can see the benefits of topological optimization, but I have to wonder why we don't just forge/form two halves & resistance weld them down the middle with a piece in for the stays if it's a hard tail & then machine any necessary surfaces. Maybe it's too complicated to make the tooling. This just looks like a lot of time wasting welding to me. If you need certain internal profiles or parts inside parts I can see a benefit, but is it really the best way to optimize strength to weight ratios?
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  • + 2
 godzilla face-palm xo
[Reply]
  • - 6
 lino-sd3 u can still print a black dildo to fist ur ass with
[Reply]
  • + 10
 Great now we have to look for bike piracy on the net. Just imagine going to piratebay and downloading a v-10...
[Reply]
  • + 3
 That would be perfect. If it becomes possible in the coming years, it will be a real kick in the face to businesses and a victory for industrial progress.

We'll still need to weld it though :/
[Reply]
  • - 2
 lane-babcock, excellent comment!!!!! It's exactly like the kinds of examples I use when explaining why software sharing/code copying is NOT "stealing" & it's perfectly fine. If my friend had a V-10 & I had access to some sophisticated manufacturing shop & could make the exact same thing & so me & mah homies bought the materials, 3D scanned everything & made our own for a fraction of the cost, WTF, we gonna end up in court over that? I wouldn't put it past some stupid wanker dick bags like Specialized, but really, who'd wanna copy a shitty Specialized anyway?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 the cost is made up primarily of the time it takes to print an object, which nobody seems to have noticed. when your a business trying to make a return on a £1,000,000 3D titanium printer, plus materials, maintainance and overheads. not to mention salaries and converting the cad files, the cost falls onto customers. that is why 3d Printed objects cost so much. although the machinery and materials are also pretty dear...
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  • - 1
 Yes yes, one day all we will need will be a nomadic 3d printer in form of a large truck and a super scanner. We will just go around scan anything we like s print our own, we won't need anything else. Move to another town, print a house, print a TV, print a shop, print a bike, print a chainsaw, cut some trees, make a trail print a jump, No print no ride. Print a red bull, print a pizza, print a computer. It will be so awesome... that is the future.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I disagree with everything you just said except the redbull.. can't resist a redbull if my life depended on it..
[Reply]
  • + 3
 One day in the future it will be possible to print a 3d printer.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 it is already possible to print a 3d printer
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I am old school I prefer to print money...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 It is not possible to fully print a 3d printer. You can print pieces of a 3d printer, you cannot print the electronics (wiring, printing bed, extruder head etc.). And if you say you "read an article on it" don't believe everythig you read, its not true. If you've ever used a 3d printer you would know it is not possible.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The reason I know it is not possible is because we built one and there are certain parts that just cannot be 3d printed (yet). Link below you can see the black pieces that connect the rails are some of the only pieces you can actually print.

brooklynmagicmaker.tumblr.com
[Reply]
  • + 0
 thats absolutely correct, ive been loking into building one for a while now, but its not worth the hassle, it would be better to make a milling table. you can rint nearly everything except the guide rails motors and electronic components, some printers can do circuit borads, but thats really a whole other printer to do that job. i guess at a ush you could print 80-90% of one anyway. not a good one mind you...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 the frame looks really good. It would be cool if you could pack a frame in parts.
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  • + 28
 It might seem like a waste of the technology to make tubing this wat, but it looks so good that I will just get myself busy picking my jaw from the floor. One of the best and most originaly looking bikes I have ever seen. You deserve respect for sticking the head out like that! All the best of luck!
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  • + 19
 Kind of looks like a reconfigured Mountain Cylcles bike a bit.
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  • - 10
 but is there an enduro specific printer ?????
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  • + 63
 No disrespect but I think people's humour got a bit too Enduro specific lately... Big Grin
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  • + 43
 Worlds first 3d printed bike that doesn't look like a vagina on wheels*
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  • - 1
 Bugi- seems legit.... LOL
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  • + 2
 @BugiDM
I'd be afraid that that seat might go up my ass… my balls would also probably be hangin through the middle Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Yeah, bit of Amp B5 going on there. Still like it though.
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  • + 3
 Mountain Cylcles fury but Ti
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  • + 3
 @BugiDM, It's the worlds first 3D printed titanium bike (apparently). Article title is a bit misleading.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 I agree Waki.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 sorry for being a ''noob'' but isn't their some kind of structural integrity issues with 3d printing
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  • + 1
 @BugiDM you have linked an artsy concept design. this is the first 3D printed titanium bike that actually exists.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Oh wait my bad it is real. So what Kona-Stinker-Dude said then.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 As as woven-in-Situ carbon moulding can be perfected, I believe that it could be the next big leap in MTB Progress (IMHO).

This Is The First Step!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Lmfao comment of the month @Kona-Stinker-Dude
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  • + 20
 The major advantage is that this can be built to custom dimensions easily, without being trapped by the hydro molds used for the S/M/L sizes currently available.

You could even have custom internal cable routing with actual metal tubes inside, so you never lose the cable inside the frame.

If they got a bigger print area they could do a single piece entire front/rear triangle, that would be awesome.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 This is exactly what I was thinking, as a 6'2" guy who is all torso, longs arms, short legs, the prospect of truly proper fit for everyone would be a game changer.
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  • - 9
 Its just too bad they couldn't make it easy on the eyes!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 @catfish9797 - I'm 6'9" bro!

@SoCalMX - You can make it look anything like you want! you could alter the frame in any way you like, have it tested and proved safe, then ride a totally custom bike! Obviously its not within everyone's limits to design and provide a model for a totally custom frame. But it's possible.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 @simooo: I feel for you man, ouch! Imagine a properly sized XXXL frame with 650's for you, you'd finally get a taste of how a proper bike SHOULD feel. At least in my case it was close, can't imagine the same for you. The dawn of a new day!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 exactly! that's why I'm so pumped about it
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Nicolai will manufacture their bikes with custom geometry, as will a few others. Curtis I think do.
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  • + 1
 As much as I love the idea of Nicolai and other more custom frame builders, the use of hydrofroming, and now 3-D Print, and their ability to craft tubing with extra material where needed, and less where it isn't, simply isn't possible to the same extent using stock tubing. As far as optimal design and strength in a completely customizable size range, 3-D is going to be where it is at, eventually. This is not to say that Nicolai bikes are not wonderful, well thought out, and well built, simply that this tech could allow for the next step in innovation, yet again allowing for lighter and stronger frame designs without the traditional constraints of a welded frame, or the set size molds used to produce carbon bikes. Designers have to be drooling at the possibilities a decade down the line...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm going to the bike show on sunday. I'll have to buzz this guy about it
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So, simooo, did you get to see it in person?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Yeah, had a good chat with the guy about it, got to hold and play with some parts off the bike. Didn't get any pics up close though Frown But I grabbed a bunch of others I can upload.

I held the seat post structure in my hands and its freakishly light, with a really nice finish too. The whole tech looks really sick. He was saying the reason the print area is so small is because it gets hotter at the top than at the bottom, so the larger sections tend to warp under their own weight at that kinda temperature. The top tube was a little warped on one of the examples he had, but it was ironed out on the real frame. Either way I'd say its just teething niggles.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Its nicely designed and there are some clever features, but i wouldnt go holding your breath for a fully printed frame coming along for a good while yet. This will have cost many many tens of thousands for anyone else to build and unlike with pressed monocoque and carbon frames that are initially expensive to tool up, but can then be produced quickly and with economies of scale, a printed part is always going to take an incredibly long time to print and will always require the same very expensive machine machine to be tied up making it.

Not to mention the way these parts are created, in layers, tends to make them less strong than proper cast, forged, fabricated parts. Notice its only the seat tower that has been tested?
[Reply]
  • + 4
 yeah but I think this printer achieves 99.7% density, apparently higher than some castings.

The software they used to design the seat tower is very cool. It analyzes the loads then optimizes a sort of bone/lattice type structure for best strength/weight. Six times over a german test is impressive. Hell of a job for a first attempt here!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 The seat tower is a thing of beauty, no argument there
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  • + 4
 The cost of this was £20,000. Was speaking with the owner yesterday. However, he hopes that in the near future production will be feasible. That seat tower is a work of art in person, and cost £3000 alone.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I had a guest lecture from renishaw just before Christmas about their additive manufacturing. Really interesting technology, but very impractical for this sort of thing at the minute. He passed round an oversized titanium bottle opener which he later told us cost a couple of grand. I reckon they'd go mad if they heard this being billed as 3d printing. SLS is a very different process.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I suspect that cost doesnt include their own mark up, assembly or covering the design/development costs, rather a materials/consumables cost... ie if any of us were to walk into renishaw (with a completed design) we'd be looking at probably porsche 911 money minimum to get something similar built.

People have mentioned scaling the machines up to build the frame as 1 part, you could do that with sla (plastic, different production costs) but even plastic sla (which essentially this ti stuff is) machines dont seem to have progressed much beyond a 300mm cubed build volume, i think the whole laser sintering process is much harder to scale up.

Dont mean to be a downer on all this, id love it to become a reality, but im just wary of over hyping it all...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 elscotto: SLS is technically in the category of 3D printing. Your probably thinking of FDM which is the more common method of 3D printing (producing little more then plastic trinkets 9 times out of 10. Queue angry outrage by a thousand Makerbot fanboys).

It's too bad they didn't Selective Laser Melt it though (SLM) or Electron Beam Melt it. With SLS you'll never get the same strength as traditional means simply because your not fully melting the material and therefore this "innovative" bike is little more then a novelty at best. Not that it's not impressive, just that it really falls short of how good it could have been.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 D1plo1d; fair point. I would consider 3d printing as resin extrusion which is then simultaneously cured with uv light and built in layers that way. Or uv laser curing layers in a resin vat, rather than powder bed fusion sort of thing. I think 3d printing is just the "everyday" term for additive manufacturing, but as there are so many different processes now, I think additive manufacturing is the preferred term. But I'm by no means an expert on the subject. I know the guy from renishaw was trying to distance himself from the term 3d printing.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think theres some confusion here, there are 3 types of printing, SLA which uses a photo sensitive liquid in a big bath (not relevant here), FDM, which is kind of like a robotic hot glue gun/welder, that builds up the part like icing a cake (also not relevant here) and SLS or selective laser sintering, this uses a powder that is smeared very thinly across the build bed, a laser passes over it and melts the bits it wants to melt, another layer of powder is smeared over the previous layer , the laser does its thing and the processes continues in 0.1-0.2mm layers.

This frame is made by selective laser sintering, or sls... its not an fdm like makerbots or the larger 3d printed stuff you'll have seen in chinese aircraft and the like.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Yep I think we were in agreement that this is sls. I just wasn't sure whether sls should be labeled as 3d printing. I've been taught to use "additive manufacturing" as a term to encompass fdm, sls, slm etc. Etc. but to leave the term "3d printing" to the curable resins. Ultimately they both describe the same thing (building complex geometry from layers) but I think companies like renishaw are keen to make the distinction so sls isn't thought of in the same light as the cheaper/ poorer quality 3d printing techniques.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Hmm, just a reference term though really isnt it, I'd have said 3d printing related to prototype parts, where addative manufacturing related more to bespoke/low volume manufacture....? I think the rp companies are keen to get away from the 'printing' tag, in order to be taken seriously as a viable solution for production work in future.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 interesting engineering process, hooray for rapid 3D prototyping...
But, direct benefits to riders? weight? over carbon, doesn't seem likely.
Price? uuh, ti dually , nuf said.
.... bonded tubing overlaps.. seems like wasted material versus hydroform alloy or laid up carbon. to say nothing of tuned stiffness.
...and at the end is a result that looks just like my 1995 Proflex Animal... not bad for 1996...
sigh, sorry, the whole package just turned me into a hater...

The engineering "inner game" is just not compelling in the world of white-knuckle, big-grin riding....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 There is no direct benefit to riders, because it is not cost effective. However, it is DIRECTLY beneficial to engineers, who can use this, or similar technologies with different materials, to speed up the turnaround of their R&D work, making better frames and technology get to you faster. So, indirectly, it's good for the riders.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 3D printing is just starting to impact most manufacturing industries. It is going to be one of the most disruptive technologies over the next decade. I doubt we'll see large scale production, but it will drastically reduce the prototyping phase time and cost and allow for innovation to get to consumers more quickly with higher quality.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Designers have been using 3d prints for over a decade already & as the guy above says, making 10 frames on a 3d printer takes 10 times as long as 1. What is very cool about them is the shapes they can produce that other processes just can't.

So a 3D printer is a great way to make certain things, and a stupid, inefficient way to make other things.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I could see the cost of 3D printers coming down to the point where a factory could be filled with them and it be cost effective. But, if the frame design doesn't truly warrant it then it's just a gimmick. Time will tell. 3D printing isn't that new, but it has only really gained popularity within the last decade, so lots of new people will start to bring lots of new ideas to the table.
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  • + 7
 if a ti bolt cost 3€ i don't know how much does it cost that frame lol
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  • + 3
 I was at the show yesterday chatting to Chris the owner and designer.

I asked the big question "I want one now, how much money do you want for it??!?" ........ he said "about £20,000"
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  • + 1
 Did you give him that 20 grand?
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  • + 3
 It's not about how much it cost or weather or not it'll break , heck everyone said carbon would never catch on! It's about pushing what is possible . I think it's amazing and I welcome the innovation
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  • + 2
 At first I was like hmmm nice bike, nice engineering but I dont know? Its all abit ikea?

And then it hit me. Modular bikes! How awesome would that be! Choose every single spec and dimension to your own personal preference! head tube size and angle, seat tube diameter, bottom bracket type, drop out type etc etc. Brilliant!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Does anyone else recall the Kirk Precision cast magnesium frames?
Different material different process, but both are alternate methods from the norm.
IIRC, the Kirk frame road like a brick, but that was for a hardtail. It might be worth revisiting for a FS bike, though now it has to compete with carbon.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i see my self wanting a titanium AK 47 made this way, no more wasting time getting parts over the boarder, now you just order a machine and by the resin and down load the specs and you can build a army hahah just joking but this is actually what is happening
[Reply]
  • + 1
 And people need to stop freaking out about this. While a 3d printer makes it easier, there have always been ways for a determined person to manufacture a weapon at home. That 3d-printed handgun was the first printed, but not the first plastic gun ever made.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 A guy in the states designed and made a 3D gun that does shoot. He then decided to release the program to the public. Well the next day the department of defense was on him like white on rice.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 And the plans are available on TPB. And he created Defense Distributed, and got a manufacturing license. It actually all worked out rather well.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm curious about the grain structure of the printed titanium, if there is one. I'd imagine its isotropic (same properties in all directions) due to being fused from a 'sand' base. I thought the directional aspects of extruded or even rolled tubes provided engineering functional benefits to the structure and rider, whereas this bike would be theoretically very different.
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  • + 5
 So when can we download a V10? Big Grin
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  • + 1
 ha, got an email from renishaw a few weeks ago about this, think the frame looks amazing, thing the technology is amazing but wouldnt hold my breath on many if any companies giving this a go with anything over than small components. its just not cost effective.
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  • + 1
 Umm....did anyone notice how the seat post is mounted on the frame? Good lord I would hate to be the one on the bike if one of the bolts broke or one of those thin titanium arms snapped.

I guess don't do any big drops on it haha
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  • + 10
 Do you sit down when you do drops? Kinky.
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  • + 1
 DirtboxTom: Good point haha No I don't but still...there's something scary about the way they designed that seat post arm.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Not saying anything about the design of this bike, just reffering to DirtboxTom's comment:
Offcourse no one wants to do drops while sitting. But in case your feet slip off your pedal when you land, or you do some kind of superman or something and you're not able to pull it back correctly, it's nice to have a seat there that won't break down on you when you need your seat to cushion your fall.


Again: I'm only talking about the situation, not at all about this bike.
This bike looks smoking hot and I have big respect for the people who made this piece of innovation become reality Beer
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing project. breaking the frame down to fit in that small envelope is creative genius, and the final product looks amazing. Even if this never goes into product it's an amazing engineering challenge and one that'll be valuable down the road. Way to go, guys!!!

"Six months to build a frame probably sounds like quite a long time to you or I, but in engineering terms, it’s nothing."
No joke. I work on projects maybe 1/10th as ambitious and complex, and they take twice as long. An amazing feat, to be sure.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 being broken down into parts is the only downside, as soon as they get a print platform big enough, this will blow minds.
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  • + 1
 We used 3D printing to make the titanium lattice of the Queen's Baton for the Commonwealth Games. It is amazing what can be achieved with these printers, but it's not quiet as simple yet as pushing print. We pushed the process to it's absolute limits with the lattice, using all kinds of design tricks to get the right result. Even then we spent the best part of a week finishing the titanium to the polished finish.

For anyone who wants to know about how it was done, I wrote a blog about it michaelaldridge.com/queens-baton-glasgow-2014-design
[Reply]
  • + 1
 3D printing is definitely very cool but honestly i don't see it as becoming the "future of manufacturing" or being something where "every home has one" for a couple reasons, first off is cycle times it takes hours upon hours to build up the layers for even a sizable part sure you can use a machine with faster servo motors or whatever but as far as the models that use plastic extrusion you can only extrude so fast because of material characteristics. powder type machines (SLM/DMLS) can get you better resoulution (surface finish) but to do that the layers have to be thinner. second for home use your gonna need to have Cad software which isnt cheap (solidworks is around 3 grand) and know how to use it. lastly the good machines the ones that make metal parts are hundreds of thousands of dollars which will never become affordable for home use. these machines are great for design prototyping and hardcore hobbyists but the cycle times are to slow for high volume production and the prices are to high for every tom dick and harry to own to print out doorknobs and screwdrivers
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  • + 2
 this is coming from a manufacturing engineer who studied drafting and product development
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  • + 2
 I agree with your points, but I'm a bit more optimistic on this subject. I am also a manufacturing engineer. We have found our printer very useful for just like you said; new programs that deal with some type of prototyping where we have to vet out a part design before it goes into production. Currently, with the technology in the printing game, this is what they are good for.

I see a bright future for printing, especially for the industry I'm in. The thing about what we do, is we are the ones that come up with the ways and processes involved in production to reduce cycle time, labor hours, cost, etc (as an ME). I will be working explicitly with lasers over the next few years and additive manufacturing. It will be on us to make this technology work for us. As we progress, so will the technology on the machines; improvement will happen around the board. We will for sure find a way to make these processes beneficial for us.

As far as this article goes, I think this is beyond awesome. Yes, very expensive right now, but there will be advances in technology. I am glad I get to be apart of it in my lifetime!! As far as owning one of these, maybe someday.... I'll start with printing my own parts first.
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  • + 1
 They definitely that their place (small complex parts, prototypes etc) i just don't see it as being practical for making thousands of bike frames for example. definitely have a future in small lot manufacturing, as advances in additive manufacturing continue their place in manufacturing may change (I've seen some very cool 5 axis additive/subtractive machines out there DMG mori makes some) where you can combine traditional subtraction machining with laser metal deposition to make complex parts and that is where i could see it appearing more on the higher volume part run side of things.
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  • + 1
 50 seconds per layer total part height is roughly 11" tall layer thickness of 1-3 thousandths we will call it 2 thou. gives a part cycle time of roughly 76 hours. DAYUM
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  • + 1
 My colleagues showed me his 3D printed prototype bike last month; I must say it’s polished and certified authentic. Well, 3D printing has not only produced copy cats, but also squeeze out someone’s imagination and ideas. On the other hand, I’m recently working on my prototype vehicle tires using the brand-new flexible rubber-like thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) filament- www.3d2print.net/shop/product/rubber-black-1-75mm Hopefully I finish the first batch before the spring break ends.
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  • + 6
 Interesting concept!
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  • + 1
 Don't know how I feel about having such important structure split. The trailing arms... 4pieces? Really?

I'm a big dude. I'd hate to be the first one to come down and have that sucker break in half right there. I can see a big future in this technology for this industry and someone has to do this first. But I don't like that execution.
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  • + 4
 This is exactly what we need, a single pivot frame held together by adhesive.
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  • + 0
 I sense scepticism...
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  • + 1
 haiku precision! nicely said!
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  • + 2
 As someone in the 3D business, this is nothing new, and it will be a long time before 3D printing is a viable alternative for mass production.
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  • + 0
 Between this and the new 3D printer that makes high strength carbon parts you could start making your own components at home. A titanium frame is one thing, but how about 3D printing your own narrow/wide chainrings. Or 9 and 10 speed cogsets that are 1-piece 11 to 42T spaced affairs and fit regular shimano freehub body splines.

11-14-18-21-25-29-33-37-42 for example would be nicely spaced out gaps... Three 3T jumps followed by four 4T and finally one 5T.
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  • + 1
 the thing with this is they don't mention the amount of post-processing that is needed. that's not how the parts come of the machine. The build layering gives contour lines across and shallow curve and to do a chain ring, would need the entire profile post-machining.
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  • - 3
 How would you make 3d printed carbon parts when they are made of carbon fibres stretching for whole or large lengths of elements and then they get impreganted with resin?

Then the idea of printing stuff at homw will never happen becase it will never be economicaly convenient. It is still far away enough to be able to print action figures at home from plastic. It is hard enough to motivate a purchase a better laser printer for home use to be able to print pictures from holidays, and we get ambitions to print metal parts? Sure you can! It's just that you got to be Donald Trumps grand son twat
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  • - 3
 Ok cool, my bad with carbon.

But still 5000 for a small box, that can print you things not larger than 3d vagina or rectum (you skip the embarassment of going to the shop yourself so got a point there!) What about the material, what about the 3d model? Will they be on torrents or rather cost lots? Making 3d models isn' easy, not mentioning making them usable for 3d printing. Dream on though, I apologize I don't want to take anyone's dreams away
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  • + 1
 Well depends on the speed it prints... it certainly will be good for the 3D printed gun project folks since even the nylon ones they've done hold up for a few shots. More relevantly is that it can be used for prototyping parts stronger than 6061T6... so think new shock linkages to test different bike configurations. Or if you want to develop a new derailleur design you can with this and the titanium printer turn out most all the pieces you'd need to assemble a prototype. In the 1990s there was a Fad to create a fully american drivetrain and that included companies like Joe's Prototype Machining, Precision Billet and Paul's Components making derailleurs. Then they were expensive and didn't work better than a shimano XTR (though they were sometimes lighter and they were prettier) while today they are even more expensive and sought after.
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  • - 3
 Sure, but I commented mostly on people talking "home use". It is great for prototyping no doubt about it. I talked to a guy involved with making military fighter jets in Sweden and despite having incredible budgets, they don't use 3d printing as much as the technology is hyped to the "average people". They make complicated joints for other elements, that would be either too expensive or even impossible to make with other methods. In the trenches, they don't do something just because it is cool, new and hey hey (JSF-35 is another story) and I am affraid that in industries like bike design that is an issue Big Grin
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  • + 1
 What? You think engineers and other creative geniuses only do their work at large factories and shops? The people who buy 3D printers for their home are the same sorts who buy mills and fancy lathes for their home workshop. If I had the money for a 3D printer for my basement I'd be churning out parts for things.
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  • - 3
 Exactly - if you had the money. Those things are shit loads expensive and I am not sure they will get cheaper and most improtantly: easier to use. Shall we call it a day and mention Hitler now? Big Grin
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  • + 2
 All of us home Solidworks/AutoCAD engineers rejoice... Even though 3D printers are still far too expensive for us to obtain currently.
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  • + 1
 Now that 3d printers are coming down in price, patent laws as we know them today will be very obscured sooner than later. I need some f7 links for my ih sunday! Dw needs to make these open source files!
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  • + 2
 The non-US "world"`s first 3D printed carbon reinforced mtb:
dirtmag.co.uk/news/the-carbon-dungeon-dirt-134.html
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  • + 1
 That is a really cool idea and an interesting looking frame. However my personal opinion is that you can never beat the individual characteristics of a hand made frame.
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  • + 2
 "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!" Oh wait that printer cost a hundred times more than my dream bike... Nevermind then...
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  • + 2
 Nice 'n all but that seat tube design is so 1999.... Doc Emmet Brown called, he wants the Flux Compensator back!
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  • + 2
 interesting idea, I wonder if you were to crack or severely dent a section if it could be "unbonded" and replaced?
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  • + 2
 Nice idea. Shame it looks like a bag of shit. Kinda reminds me of a Mountain Cycle from the late 90's.
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  • + 1
 I want to see some printed cassettes. No more pinning and the weight should come down significantly.
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  • - 1
 The day will come when the local 3D printing plant will take orders. You will pay for blue prints and the manufacturing cost, and the bike will be made right there. Shipping will be limited to raw ingredients.
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  • + 1
 Exciting stuff! Smile love titanium and love the idea of new ways to produce things. 3d printing is a great way forward
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  • + 0
 Welcome to the new type of pro-only frames on the world cup circuit! Smile ) Also, I have to mention the feature of #endurospecific frames!
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  • + 1
 It's an interesting idea and could be really good but that bike looks like an asda special
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  • + 1
 Unbelievable innovation. First attempt and it's that good. Future's going to be interesting.
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  • + 2
 bear in mind this is not a new technology and if you look at it closely the joints are crudely glued together. Don't be blinded by marketing bullshit..
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  • + 1
 Not new technology but it's application to a bike frame for first attempt is innovative. Of course it's far from good and needs a lot of work.
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  • + 2
 This could the first steps into revolutionizing the mtb industry.
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  • + 1
 This concept is amazing, however I worry it is strong enough to withstand the abuse of weekend or daily riding ?
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  • + 0
 £1000 with shock for the aluminium version is quite affordable given that the frame is made in the UK (small production) and uses high tech.
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  • + 2
 Anyone else not understand what that video was showing?
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  • + 2
 It is showing the printing process. Basically, a bed of titanium "sand", tiny particles of metal, and laser melts a section, predetermined by the design loaded into the computer controlling the whole thing, to form certain shapes. Then, that arm sweeps through and deposits another layer of metal particles and the laser melts that into the first shape it melted. Enough passes, and you have what is in the second picture in the article. Very rudimentary description, but I hope it helps! Pretty neat stuff.
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  • + 1
 that's awesome! cheers
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  • - 2
 Lets make a frame from 10 different pieces and bolt it together. Then we can watch it break in 10 different places. 3D printing has its place in prototypes not manufacturing. And yes, I know its titanium. How much is the frame? $3000!?
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  • + 1
 3000$ is your vision of a titanium prototype frame price? Where were you last 25 years?
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  • + 1
 Keep in mind that there are some carbon fiber frames that are generated in a similar way. Although the majority seem to be moving toward one-piece monocoque frames, others are created in sections and then connected using an aerospace adhesive. For the titanium, it would simply be a matter of welding, which is already done on every other metal bike frame on the market.
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  • + 0
 Seems like a big waste of time and money.
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  • + 0
 You don't get it Rat. This is a proof of concept - showing in real terms that something can be done. They probably chose to print the entire frame, simply to try a number of different shapes and test bonding. A 'real' bike might have printed 'lugs' and standard or hydroformed tubes, for total size customization. I bet this bike cost closer to $30,000 than $3000. The printer has got to be a half million bucks. Its not yet feasible for manufacturing but to prove out a number of engineering concepts and test the printer it is successful.
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  • + 1
 I totally get. Look what I made with my big expensive machine. I work in manufacturing and I see this all the time. Why spend crazy money to "prove out" a design that's already proven. And even if this bike goes to a titanium frame its going to be hydroformed.
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  • + 1
 C this bike at the london bike show and it's so light and for the price u get good value for money
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  • + 1
 Sweet Mountain Cycle Fury, bro.
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  • + 1
 Oh science... I f*ing love you.
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  • + 1
 i want to 3d print my house some day....
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  • + 1
 Looks like the printer got jammed...
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  • + 1
 Surely a 3D printed bike would just snap? Plastic isn't that strong
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  • + 1
 "3d printed" is the new "enduro specific". Mark my words.
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  • + 1
 I'm afraid of that seat post apparatus.
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  • + 1
 Titanium+3D printing=hella lot of money
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  • + 2
 For now, yeah. What makes titanium frames so expensive, though, is the way that TI can't be welded regularly. Like jumping from steel to aluminum, it takes a very good welder and a specific welding rig to do it. As shown by this article, 3D printing aluminum is harder than TI and takes a more expensive machine. I would wager that as the costs of 3D printers comes down, so will the cost of projects like this. Once you get the printer, it's all maintenance and materials.
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  • + 1
 my direct experience and that of many others is that aluminum is more challenging to weld that titanium, by far. raw material costs and tooling bulk ti to sheet or tubing is the principle cost disadvantage of titanium. so, potentially shooting "sands" of ti (nice book title) would save cost of tubing manufacture... soo, a wash in terms of costs? jsut seems like a bunch of wanking over 3D printing....
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  • + 1
 This also opens up the possibilities for composites: Carbon and Ti together to make stronger, more reliable, lighter bike. 3D printing will eventually drop the costs of far better materials since manufacturing costs will drop drastically. I bet the day is coming when carbon is cheaper than aluminum, simply because of labor and shipping costs.
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  • + 1
 Its going to shoot people
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  • + 1
 Looks great, don't know how I feel about 'bonding' though.
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  • + 7
 You realise that pretty much every aircraft that is currently not falling out of the sky is bonded right? As are many high performance cars. For a material such as aluminium it's actually preferable to bond rather than weld since the surface oxide provides a fantastic surface for the adhesive to key to.
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  • + 1
 Carbon parts are bonded too.
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  • + 2
 Bonding provided it is not placed under a peel loading is typically more uniform and stronger than most welding and mechanical fixing methods.
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  • + 2
 Lots of old Raleigh Technium frames still kickin.... not to mention every carbon bike ever.
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  • + 1
 is it tested for its durability on rocky terrain n jumps?
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  • + 1
 Renishaw made my fake teeth. Fact.
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  • + 1
 Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyam! Does that mean I could rock a Renishaw grill while riding a Renishaw produced bike?
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  • + 1
 godzilla face palm xo
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  • + 1
 That is seriously cool stuff!
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  • + 1
 That would be killer for tatoos
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  • + 1
 Without the seat tube it looks like a walmart bike
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  • + 1
 This may be how carbon bikes get cheap enough to buy for normal humans!
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  • + 1
 Absolutely fascinating. I see the future in 3d printers coming.
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  • + 1
 There can be only one...
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  • - 1
 Can they print cove stiffee bike?
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  • + 1
 fucking ugly !
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  • - 1
 its about time the carbon dies?
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