While many commuters rely on their cars, there are plenty of other ways to get around, such as riding public transportation systems or a bicycle. And just as 3D printing has made a difference in the automotive industry, so too is the technology changing up how we ride our bikes. German company Urwahn Engineering GmbH, better known as Urwahn Bikes, has been working the last few years to use 3D printing innovation in order to set new standards in the bicycle industry, and economically transfer the technology into use for series production. With a slogan like “Design Engineering to Perfection,” it’s clear Urwahn is dedicated to its vision of using “smart and fair solutions” to “mobilize people in the urban space.”
“With the passion for technology, outstanding quality and seamless design, we rethought the bike,” the company states on its website. “This reinterpretation makes commuting in the rough climes of the city through an uncompromising driving experience to a unique experience – the Urwahn Bike.”
The company is on a mission to create a smart, user-friendly Urwahn Bike. In a letter addressed to “journalists, design junkies, bike enthusiasts and symphathizers,” Urwahn just announced that it is officially introducing its innovative 3D printed frame concept, having brought the series to maturity over the last five years with the help of its multiple industrial partners.
We’ve seen plenty of different 3D printed bicycle frames made out of a variety of materials, including titanium, carbon fiber, and even recyclable PLA. Urwahn used steel for its frames, 3D printing them on Concept Laser printers with Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology.
“After we started with precision casting we realized that our walls where to thin for this production procedure. Therefore, we switched to SLM and managed to get very good surfaces and a constant reproductivity,” Ramon Thomas, the Managing Director of Urwahn Engineering GmbH, told 3DPrint.com. “Those positive features in combination with the possibility to integrate technical elements such as the light, cable routing or the seat clamp into the frame, qualified the 3D-Printing for us. As material we use CL50WS (steal 1.2709).”
Urwahn was able to use 3D printing to majorly decrease the size of the steel frame, and also detached its structure from the more traditional “trapezoidal construction,” using a saddle tube deflected to the rear. Combine this with the commuter safety provided by an integrated GPS tracking system and LED lighting system, and you’ve got a finished product in a new frame with an eye-catching shape that makes your bike ride much more comfortable for daily use.
The company’s first complete bike with lightweight 3D printed frame is the Stadtfuchs. It features a steel frame with an organic form, as it doesn’t have any obvious joints, but brings to mind a carbon frame in its looks and resides in the weight class of aluminum wheels. You can customize your bike on the Urwahn website, and it comes in a variety of colors and sizes, with the medium Stadtfuchs weighing in at 12 kg.
“The result is a compact geometry characterized by agile driving behaviour, directional stability, improved traction and reduced steering forces,” Urwahn wrote about the 3D printed frame on its website.
Working to maximize on quality and functionality, while also delivering a pleasing aesthetic design, Urwahn decided to locate its bicycle production almost completely to its home country of Germany. This gives the company much more flexibility in terms of delivery and communication, which helps in its ultimate goal of “motivating people in urban areas to environmentally conscious locomotion.”
For now, Urwahn is focusing on the distribution of its Stadtfuchs bicycles, which were released, directly and indirectly, through a selected dealer network earlier this year. But the company definitely has more up its sleeve, so I expect we’ll be hearing more about its 3D printed bicycle frames, and other innovations, in the future.
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