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Old 12-15-13, 01:19 PM   #1
paranoidroadie
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3D Printed Wheelset

As 3D printing technology is becoming more accessible to the general public, do you believe that wheel companies could benefit from 3D printing? What types of materials are used and are they light enough? Just a thought, If anybody is more knowledgeable on the topic, feel free to expand!
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Old 12-15-13, 01:36 PM   #2
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3D printing (I started working with it over 20 years ago when it was called stereo lithography) is generally most applicable to fabricating small quantities of complex items. Like any other fabrication technique, there are considerations with respect the materials and the resultant properties of those materials when processed in those ways. Wheel parts are for the most part pretty simple circularly symmetric items and fabricated very rapidly in large quantities and to high specifications. 3D printing of some parts might be useful for prototyping, but I don't see a use for it in production, at least not yet. In the future, who knows?
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Old 12-15-13, 07:34 PM   #3
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The part that could benefit from 3d printing is probably a saddle. Custom-shaped saddles available from your local print shop.
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Old 12-15-13, 08:43 PM   #4
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Yes, I think it could revolutionize saddles. custom fit!
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Old 12-15-13, 09:00 PM   #5
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Non-load bearing parts. Not sure how I feel about plastic. Printer plastic isn't famously tough, I don't recall. At least, the stuff from the 3D printer we had a decade ago wasn't!

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Old 12-15-13, 09:07 PM   #6
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For regular printing, (i.e. fused plastic), not much.
But Direct Metal Laser Sintering is another story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW-2xaIDtMk

Here is an example of what can be produced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7ZYKMBDm4M
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Old 12-15-13, 09:55 PM   #7
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Well I'll be.

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Old 12-16-13, 07:52 AM   #8
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There are a lot of parts to bicycles that can benefit from 3D printing. Seat, hand grips, lugs... I think that the wheels are probably the least likely to benefit from 3D printing. Spokes are the reason. The wheel is held together with tension. I'm not sure how you would print something with tension built in. Though I guess you could print it and tighten it up. Printing a wheel with a tire would be even more difficult because of the variety of materials required.

But 3D printing currently works best with custom objects, objects that can't be built any other way or for prototyping objects to be mass produced later.
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