First shown off in public at last weekend's Cycle Show in London is a 3D printed sustainable concept mountain bike from Canyon.
The wild-looking frame and fork were built as part of a project initiated by BIKE Magazine Germany for its 'Ride Green' story
with Canyon being asked to build the Cradle 2 Cradle frame. The rest of the build was supplied by brands that partnered in the project with an aim to try and design a bike that could be as sustainable as possible with all components being fully recyclable and materials reusable without risking quality.
While investigating how you could produce a more sustainable bicycle, the project went beyond just looking at materials and ensured that reducing waste was included as part of the lofty goal. In the pursuit of reducing waste, 3D printing and aluminum were chosen to create the frame and German 3D printing company Materialise used selective laser melting in the production process. This method of manufacturing involves lasers to melt aluminum powder and allows the creation of unique shapes that can be seen on the concept bike.
To ensure the frame meets the needs of the project, only recyclable materials were used with 3D printing being the ideal manufacturing technique as it allows regional production, short lead times and potential for lower pricing. To create the incredible looking frame the design uses a skeleton to form a load-bearing structure with a shell providing more protection and better surface properties.
Each of the three frame pieces of the design takes around six hours to make and the claimed weight for the frame and fork at 2kg. There are no current plans for this to become a production bike for Canyon but it will be interesting to see how the project potentially influences future Canyon bikes and designs.
My problem is that this is being framed as a sustainability effort with zero facts presented as to what that entails. If you're going to greenwash something, at least throw in some nonsense like "20% more sustainable than conventional methods." Telling us to simply believe that a 6+ hour laser sintering process is somehow more efficient than maybe 4 total hours of hydroforming, mitering and TIG welding is lazy, even by the very lax standards of cycling marketing.
Until there is any evidence to support these claims, this is just a cool design exercise couched in environmentalist language.
(Scenario 1) New product comes out that is innovative: Everybody calls said product environmental terrorism because it didn't exist before and we are now adding to landfills. People are not allowed to make new things. You disgust Pinkbike.
(Scenario 2) Product release that is an update of a current product: Everybody loses their shit about the cost, if you support this update you are a marketing whore and everybody will tell you this. Shame on you for liking things, you are likely still contributing to environmental terrorism as this point too.
Lets say a new iPhone comes out. Well. All these whiney little twats collectively jizz their pants over the extra 0.001" of screen size to watch the latest Tic Tok video of some moron setting a pile of tires on fire with gas. They drop $1,000 without thinking twice and throw their last iPhone from 6 months ago strait in the trash, fire up that new bad boy and log into PB to see this article and promptly make a comment about how there was no explanation about the sustainability.
You talk like you just came from a r/atheism seminar, guess you are both really fun at parties.
The bit about parties, that was sarcasm, I didn't mean it.
edit: I am the most boring person at parties (mostly because I don't go)
There’s more info on the process here: www.materialise.com/en/manufacturing/3d-printing-technology/metal-3d-printing
The tech is really cool though. I wonder with some more R&D if they could get the weight down? 4.4lbs is “steel is real” territory. But I imagine you could do some really interesting things if you could 3D print a lattice of aluminum, or even titanium, inside the frame.
Yes, aluminum frames are more "sustainable " but mountain biking is marketing, and they need a way to justify high prices for an aluminum frame.
Next: forged lugs and glued tubing, similar to Alan frames 40 years ago.
People are enamored with new technology, and this justifies higher prices. In the time it takes to print and glue one frame a hundred classic alloy frames can be produced.
Would be interested to know the post-processing steps as well. "Green" PBF parts are rarely ready to go straight off the build plate.
Really interesting project, but definitely need more information before they make those environmentally friendly claims.
I would be interested to know what the internal geometry of the structure is like. That’s where this method really has a lot of possibilities for the sport. Designing compliance in far more precise locations/fashions than traditionally manufactured frames should lead to really enjoyable bikes.
As a high schooler, I once toured an aluminum plant that was built right next to a dam across the Columbia river, that used a not-insignificant portion of that damn's output for its work.
Their engineer (whos been there since the Robot days) says additive aluminum takes way to much energy to be environmentally or cost-justifiable, because aluminum's high reflectivity (at least for bikes). Is this inline with your experience?
DMLM is just a subset of SLM, in the same way that DMLS is SLS. However, SLM is not the same as SLS, as the name implies. They are however all under the umbrella of PBF, but face different challenges.
As for metal processing, I believe Atherton is sintering and not melting. Less residual stress, less energy use.
Using a process like DMLM that fully melts the metal powder makes it much closer to a wrought part (and more expensive).
What do you mean by reflectivity?
Also, parts produced through DMLM that are such high density are able to be used almost immediately in some special cases, especially when surface finish (a large AM weakness) is not a concern, as pictured. And metal parts, especially in load-bearing applications, are rarely "glued". You'll need much stronger joints than most adhesives can offer.
It’ll be interesting to see if 3d printing reaches a point where bicycle frames can be made that way cost competitively.
Make it happen!
Side note: How are the multi parts of the frame joined, bonded or welded? How long was the print/sintering time?
great idea and looks awesome! would be interesting to see what the shock absorption is like compared to alloy/carbon
I don't know enough about fatigue cracking in 3D printed structures to say whether this would definitely change, but I wouldn't assume that the old paradigm of fatigue cracking in aluminum is the same in 3D printed structures as in traditional cast/formed structures, it could be worse or it could be better.
That being said, I still have my 1994 GT Backwoods made from 6061 aluminum that has been beat up pretty good over the years and it is still going strong with no signs of any stress fractures. In general, I think this concern has always been overblown in the cycling community for most aluminum components, especially frames.
What Canyon missed communicating clearly is that the most potentially sustainable part of this is
in reducing the shipping. At some point, its reasonable to assume that putting the 3d printers closer to the final destination is going to happen, so this is a cool experiment.
Everything that is shipped from Asia to Europe or North America is inherently wasteful, especially when often the raw materials are shipped there first.
Still no mention of what alloy of aluminum is used for metal printing for this example.
Steel on the other hand has an infinite fatigues life it the force applied is under the ultimate yield strength.
The other massive problem with this approach is that maintaining appropriate QC is really hard. It's an issue with additive manufacturing in general, and exacerbated by spreading that manufacture across multiple centres. Are you going to have full test rigs at each production centre?
All of that is eliminated with this system.
Still it gave the marketing department something to do with the money they get from their brands customers