While many of us may sometimes drift away momentarily from the work tasks at hand, sitting comfortably at the desk and halfway into a coma after that lunchtime BBQ sandwich and fries, thoughts of recreation and the upcoming weekend activities often take over. We might be imagining ourselves swimming in the shimmering ocean waters or heading into the mountains for a day of hiking and biking.
Now, what if you could really veer off course and start 3D printing that bike for the weekend directly from your desktop? Who would have ever imagined that it could even be a consideration?
Coming from colorFabb, 3D printing a bike from the desktop just is part of the normal work day. Known for innovating on that much talked about cutting edge, the team at colorFabb wanted to see if they could actually make a functioning, normal bike–from a functioning, normal desktop 3D printer.
That sounds ridiculously intimidating to the normal lot of us simply content to embrace the muffintop and daydream about the idea, envisioning ourselves biking over hill and dale like pros. The colorFabb team, however, was ready take on the this adventure right in the lab–namely by one intern named Stephen Schürmann, who literally went to town on this bike after designing it inSOLIDWORKS and 3D printing it on an Ultimaker Original Plus.
“This concept bike has been developed to demonstrate that a 3D printed racing bike can be produced on a regular, commercially available 3D printer, using new composite materials. The design goal was to use the bike in real life, under normal circumstances,” states the colorFabb team. “We also want to bring 3D printing closer to the industry. This bike serves as an inspiration for other engineers to show what 3D printing can do nowadays and realize their own project with this technique.”
Allowing their own XT-CF20 carbon fiber filled filament to work as a stunning advertisement for its own merits, the team was able to produce a bike that weighs in at an acceptable level for racing and has an extremely strong frame. The XT-CF20 is an Amphora 3D polymer made specifically for 3D printing, and the team chose it to attempt producing this bike concept because of its superior stiffness/elongation ratio.
“The bike concept focuses on printing functional parts that will be mechanically loaded,” stated the team.
Working on a time limit, they decided to forgo printing the entire bike, opting to 3D print just the lugs and then connect them to tubes.
Obviously, once you get past the challenges of figuring out how to print something so sizeable, and um, real, for the desktop 3D printer, the benefits are staggering–especially when you consider the number of ecologically minded communities and metropolises these days where cars are becoming a minority. That puts being able to tweak your bike and 3D print it yourself directly into the self-sustainability category; and even if it’s just for recreation, with the facility to make customizations and changes quickly through digital design and pumping out more 3D pieces at your own whim and on your own time, well–there’s that ‘whole new world’ everyone’s been talking about since 3D printing technology hit the headlines. Size and ergonomics are completely at your disposal.
It can also be 3D printed on any number of different 3D printers from the Ultimaker to the MakerBot, and many more. The colorFabb team has successfully tested the 3D printed bike with a FEM analysis and most importantly–they have actually ridden this bike, proving that it will function for real-world wear and tear.
“This is something truly new. From now on everybody can print their own bicycle frame at home. With some SOLIDWORKS skills you can also make your own customized version for best ergonomics,” states Schürmann regarding the files which are available on Thingiverse, GrabCad, and YouMagine.
Is this is a 3D printing project you are interested in taking on? If not a bike, what type of real-life utilitarian object are you interested in 3D printing? Discuss in the 3D Printing Racing Bike forum thread over at 3DPB.com.