As 3D printing technology and the corresponding materials continue to improve and expand on an industrial level, creating functional use-end production parts has become a more viable option for a number of applications. One area that this has become apparent in is bicycle manufacturing, which has been integrated with metal-based 3D printing on numerous occasions. Thus far, in the midst of this year alone, we’ve covered aluminum 3D printed folding bicycles created in collaboration between the 3D printing service bureau Shapeways and the bike manufacturer Montague Bikes. Dutch students from the Delft University of Technology have also pedaled ahead of the pack this year by designing their own unique bicycle frame, which was 3D printed in metal with the help of MX3D.
Now, the UK-based metal 3D printing company Mirada Pro is collaborating with the esteemed bicycle frame manufacturer Reynolds Technology to create a lightweight frame from 3D printed titanium powder. Every component of the bicycle frame, aside from the Reynolds-branded tubing, were 3D printed in 6/4 titanium powder, which was then welded together by professional framebuilder Ted James.
In order to design the shape of the frame in accordance to functionality and support, the team inputted the standard load that a frame needs to withstand to pass an EN safety test. With this information, the computer was able to generate a bicycle frame design that utilizes a minimal amount of material, but is also able to endure the standard load that would placed upon the frame.
Interestingly enough, Mirada Pro has a background in both the aerospace industry and Formula One racing, both of which were likely to be valuable assets to the production of this bicycle frame. One of the main goals of the collaboration was to design a bicycle frame that weighs less than a kilogram (approximately 2.2 pounds), which would certainly make for an unbelievably light bicycle. The outcome of the frame, which is medium-sized, was 999g, just reaching the targeted weight goal. They believe that this manufacturing technique is extremely viable in the long-run as well. With metal 3D printing technology, bicycle frame manufacturers are able to print multiple parts, each with their own intention and use, all in one print.
“The beauty of 3D printing is you can print multiple parts, all of them different within reason, at the same time,” said Iain McEwan, a Mirada Pro product engineer. “So although we took 25 hours over these parts, next time we could fit more onto the printer bed and produce more in the same amount of time.”
According to the UK-based bicycle news website Cyclist, the frame took approximately 25 hours to 3D print by Mirada Pro, which charges around £75 an hour to use one of their 3D printers. This puts the estimated value of the bicycle frame at about £1,875, which is certainly not too outlandish for a racing bicycle at that weight. The 3D printed bicycle frame is currently being tested in an independent test lab, which once completed, should lead to other unveiled metrics of the bicycle.
Reynolds Technology recently unveiled the 3D printed titanium bike frame this past week at Eroica Britannia, an annual cycling and family lifestyle festival in Derbyshire, England. If there’s one thing that a professional bicycle racer loves to brag to their riding buddies about, it’s the lightness of their bicycle frame. This collaboration between Mirada Pro and Reynolds proves that metal 3D printing just might be a viable way to optimize the support and weight of frames in the near future. Would you be interested in one of these lightweight frames? Discuss further in the 3D Printed Bike Frame forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Cyclist]