3D-printed titanium offers new possibilities for bike builders
Road bikes made from a mix of titanium and carbon fiber are already pretty special, and even more so if they're made to order. The folks at Australia's Bastion Cycles, however, are taking things even further. Their recently-announced first model features filament-wound carbon tubes, joined to one another with titanium lugs that are 3D printed to fit the buyer.
Once the company's ordering system is up and running, customers will use an online portal to design their bike – this will involve things like submitting body measurements, and selecting desired ride characteristics. This data will determine the length of the tubes, and the dimensions/angles of the lugs.
From there, once the order has been placed, Bastion's 3D printer will go to work. Using a laser, it will selectively melt aerospace titanium powder, building the lugs up in layers one one-thousandth of an inch thick. All of the lugs (and wheel dropouts) for one bike can be printed in one build session, which takes less than a day to complete.
The carbon tubes are subsequently inserted into the lugs, and bonded in place. A nice side benefit of that system is the fact that if any of those tubes should ever break, they can be individually replaced.
Bastion's Ben Schultz tells us that when lugs are made from traditional titanium tubing, builders are creatively limited by the size and shape of those tubes. Casting lugs from molten titanium is an option, although the wall thickness of those lugs must still be relatively thick, thus adding weight.
By contrast, because the 3D-printed lugs are built with a supporting mesh-like structure inside, their walls can be as thin as one twenty-thousandth of an inch. As a result, says Schultz, his company's lugs are both lighter and less constrained in design than the more conventional alternatives.
Bastion is currently taking preorders for its Road Disc bike (as it's called for now), with the possibility of cyclocross and mountain bike models coming out at a later date. A frameset will cost you US$5,400 plus shipping from Melbourne.
Company website: Bastion Cycles