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  1. #1
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    Empire Cycles Unveils the World's First 3D-Printed Titanium Bike Frame

    Bike manufacturer Empire Cycles just unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed titanium bike frame! According to it’s manufacturers, the super light MX-6 can be “trashed downhill but allows a rider to sprint uphill without excess weight.” It was built in collaboration with UK-based engineering company Renishaw and boasts some amazing features that promise the ultimate biking experience.

    The frame was manufactured in parts using laser sintering and a process called topological optimization. Its organic form relies on a series of lattice-like joints and has extraordinary structural strength while remaining a third lighter than conventional bikes. The box-like section links require minimal welding and have a tough, durable finish.

    MX-6 has the same type of seat tower as its predecessor, AP-1, and a swing arm that is machined out of a 40kg block into a component that weighs only 1kg. According to the company, the MX-6 swing arm is the only fully-machined one in the world and its technology has more similarities to aircraft technology than that of bike manufacturing. The bike can be ordered in two frame sizes and in custom colors, including cobalt blue, hot red and titanium, and costs £3,975 ($6,483).
    http://www.renishaw.com/en/first-met...-cycles--24154

  2. #2
    A little North of Hell
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    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    XXXI

  3. #3
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    i'm surprised no one has posted to this thread. i find the technology fascinating. hope i live long enough to see it become a commercial success.

  4. #4
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Cool. But this production seems complex, esoteric and proprietary software intensive. Unless the firm plans on licensing this technique, it'll be limited to the few who don't want to make frames the traditional way. What are the final production frame prices going to be? Can traditional assembly methods be used otherwise? Does the relative strength gained and weight saved justify the cost?

    I guess that it's interesting from an optimization standpoint. The proof would be whether top-flight MTB racers desire this type of frame or not. Otherwise, these bikes are just curiosities for tinkerers and those with discretionary income.

  5. #5
    Lanterne Rouge More Cowbell's Avatar
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    I have used laser sintering for several prototypes in my profession. As to software all you need is a CAD package that can export to a common file type (IGES or STEP). There are several companies out there that do these types of custom work. I'm not sure how easily it could be scaled up for a volume production purposes but the costs are not outrageous.(think $30 - 50 for a component about the size of a stem). In the bike world I am more interested in component development as you can make really complex shapes in titanium for a reasonable cost.
    1982 Ciocc World 77
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  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Metallurgically thinking, Sintered assembly grain by grain wont have the longer grain structure of a die drawn tube.

    so I expect tensile strength is less,

    If safety minded it needs to be thicker , so weigh more

  7. #7
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by More Cowbell View Post
    ...all you need is a CAD package that can export to a common file type (IGES or STEP). There are several companies out there that do these types of custom work...
    My reading of the article suggests that their value proposition is the coupling of on-the-fly finite element analysis, structural optimization algorithms, and a CAD package interface. It's the front-end that's proprietary, or at least not an off-the-shelf package...

  8. #8
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Metallurgically thinking, Sintered assembly grain by grain wont have the longer grain structure of a die drawn tube.

    so I expect tensile strength is less,

    If safety minded it needs to be thicker , so weigh more
    But on the other hand it isn't limited by the drawing process so there isn't metal in places it's not needed.

    The amusing thing to me is that the article goes on at some length about the design of the subframe but in the one photo of the bike being ridden, he's not on the seat.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Oh well beat it up on Big drops for a few years and ... I'll Watch .

  10. #10
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    It appears that although they are printing the whole frame, that printer size is still a problem and that the head tube assembly still has to be connected to the bottom bracket assembly with a downtube and that the component parts need to be fused together.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

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