I think I wrote the other day that my favorite type of 3D printed object was the awesome wearable art — jewelry and clothing — being offered by creative 3D printing artists. But I wasn’t thinking when I wrote that. It’s the 3D printed bikes that are my favorite!
Not that bikes haven’t always been a bit of wearable art — even a fashion accessory — since they were first popularized at the end of the 19th century. At minimum, bikes are a way to get from point A to point B without burning fossil fuels or breaking the bank — while getting some exercise at the same time. But it’s difficult these days to avoid pressure to get to your destination in the most stylish manner possible: there is no end to slick and stylish bikes/bike accessories on the hipster market. If riding a bike is an advertisement for an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, then what does that make a 3D printed on demand bike? Extremely environmental?
The verdict is still out on how amenable 3D printing is with the bicycle design world — but the scales are beginning to tip in 3D printing’s direction in this category. For 3D printing and bicycling enthusiasts, you already know it isn’t possible to successfully print an entire bicycle that works well all the time. Scale and workable parts have been huge challenges. And, in the appearance category, some 3D printed bikes are more functional than attractive (unless you like the futuristic look). All of these design challenges leave some to question the functionality or “ride-ability” of 3D printed bikes. Omer Sagiv‘s conceptual design for a Luna 3D printed on demand bicycle is a nice addition to the growing genre of 3D printed bikes — and it should turn heads and challenge orthodoxies regarding functionality, affordability, and appearance too.
Not all of Luna is 3D printed, but the frame, front-fork, and handle bars are 3D printed with nylon using SLS technology. (Off the shelf parts keep cost down, and include: front fork bearing and suspension, bearing crank shaft, adjustable bike saddle, and internal belt.) At first glance, part of the bike frame looks like an exaggerated honeycomb, improving upon one of the fatal flaws of other 3D printed bikes — lackluster appearance (see photo of EADS’ 3D printed Airbike for an example). I’m probably not the only one to associate biking with a feeling of lightness and freedom, and Luna’s honeycomb-like frame pattern (a pattern also featured on the wheels) fits that feeling quite well. It’s nice to look at (and the bike can be ordered in colors including white, black, light blue, and light purple), and it makes you want to ride it, immediately.
But beyond appearance, perhaps Luna’s big selling point is the fact it is printed on demand and therefore can be customized for any body size. That’s a really big deal for anyone who falls outside the conventional bounds within which bikes are usually designed and manufactured: your bike has to fit your body well in order for it to ride well. While new technology, like 3D printed products, usually implies high cost — money is also saved here by not making and storing bicycles, waiting for them to sell. On the supply side of things, it’s a win-win: you would custom order a bike that can be made in just a few hours.
3D printed Luna might help convince skeptics that still cling to the orthodoxy that 3D printing is only good for smaller objects — not transportation vehicles. The Luna is a great addition to this category mainly because of its no-frills vibe. From just looking at it, the bike speaks to the point many bicycling enthusiasts are trying to make about this chosen mode of transportation: it’s simple! If you want to ride your bike more, just get on and start pedaling!
What do you think of the design of the Luna 3D printed bike? Let us know what you think of Omer Sagiv’s design over at the Luna forum thread at 3DPB.com.