Mega-Collaboration Between 15 Organizations Showcases the Potential of 3D Printing in Bicycle Form

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IMG_0834If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, and if it looks like a bicycle, it must be a bicycle – right? Not necessarily, at least according to Flanders-based additive manufacturing cluster organization Flame3D/FlamD. The conglomerate is comprised of nearly 70 companies and research institutions, and the “not-bicycle” is a project recently completed by 15 organizations working together to demonstrate the varieties and capabilities of 3D printing. The result, says FlamD, just so happens to look like a bicycle.

Whether having all the parts and appearance of a bicycle makes it a bicycle is a philosophical question for college students to debate in their common rooms at 3am, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll call the bike-shaped 3D printing showcase a bike for now. The collaboration, between several institutions expert in 3D printing, was conceived to show the wide variety of 3D printing methods and technologies that have been developed, and what they can be used for. The project took the form of a bicycle to demonstrate how easy it is to create a bike entirely from 3D printed parts – something that would have been unheard of until recently (though we have now seen several 3D printed bicycle projects come to fruition or be attempted).

The cooperation between the multiple organizations was a key element in the project as well, says the newly created FlamD. There are so many companies working with the technology these days, and so many different areas of focus and specialization, that it’s essential for those areas to be brought together in order to really advance the technology, according to FlamD General Director Kris Binon.

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”3D-printing a bike is not such a big deal any more. What 3D-printing really needs nowadays, is cooperation,” Binon says. “Beyond the hype, there’s a world in which we have to work together – both in- and outside the AM ecosystem. Flanders is ready for that reality. We need to set new standards for this amazing technology, the 3D-printing market needs maturing and therefore the focus should be on development of a continuous outlet rather than on competing each other.”

saddle

3D printing the saddle

The bike is composed of parts created with a diverse selection of 3D printing technologies. The frame, created by Materialise with Ghent University, demonstrates the capability of 3D printing combined with composite wrapping to deliver an excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio along with potential for customization. Other examples include:

  • Sprocket designed and printed by the University of Leuven using silicon-carbide 3D printing
  • Carbon fiber-reinforced composite sprocket printed by REIN4CED
  • Crank designed by Materialise with a lattice structure, demonstrating the possibility of printing strong yet lightweight parts
  • Saddle produced by REIN4CED and Materialise from stiff carbon composite shell and soft rubberlike TPU topper
  • 3D printed light within the saddle, from REIN4CED, Materialise and Tenco DDM
  •  3D printed seatpost from metal printing company MT3D
  • Wheels printed by Ghent University and 3dee
  • Fender from University of Leuven and 3dee
  • Steering component from Materialise and Sirris

Other companies who worked on the project include RSPrint, T&M Solutions, 3D&I, Formando, Hoet, Layered Prints, and Vamac. The bike was unveiled at the Zolder Race Circuit on August 27 and will travel to additional events and fairs in the near future to educate companies and schools about the extensive capabilities of 3D printing. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Bicycle forum over at 3DPB.com.

 

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