Bicycles

3D-printed compostable bike frame is made from plants

3D-printed compostable bike fr...
The fully-assembled award-winning Aenimal Bhulk mountain bike
The fully-assembled award-winning Aenimal Bhulk mountain bike
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The end product of Eurocompositi's Aenimal project, the proof-of-concept Bhulk frame is made of polylactic acid (PLA) using fused deposition modeling (FDM)
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The end product of Eurocompositi's Aenimal project, the proof-of-concept Bhulk frame is made of polylactic acid (PLA) using fused deposition modeling (FDM)
A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
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A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
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A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
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A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
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A 3D-printed component of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
Although it does still require energy to produce PLA filaments and then use them in a 3D printer, Eurocompositi claims that it requires less megajoules per kilogram of material than is required for other commonly-used polymers such as ABS or PET
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Although it does still require energy to produce PLA filaments and then use them in a 3D printer, Eurocompositi claims that it requires less megajoules per kilogram of material than is required for other commonly-used polymers such as ABS or PET
The Aenimal Bhulk frame is made from individually-printed components that are then slotted/bonded together
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The Aenimal Bhulk frame is made from individually-printed components that are then slotted/bonded together
The various components of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
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The various components of the Aenimal Bhulk frame
The Aenimal Bhulk frame is said to "maintain a certain stiffness and durability"
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The Aenimal Bhulk frame is said to "maintain a certain stiffness and durability"
The design team won a gold award for the Aenimal Bhulk, at the Eurobike show in Germany
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The design team won a gold award for the Aenimal Bhulk, at the Eurobike show in Germany
The fully-assembled award-winning Aenimal Bhulk mountain bike
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The fully-assembled award-winning Aenimal Bhulk mountain bike

With the exceptions of wood and bamboo, bicycle frames usually aren't made from sustainable resources. And although some programs do exist, we generally don't think of old bike frames getting recycled. Italian design studio Eurocompositi is setting out to change that, however, with its 3D-printed Bhulk mountain bike frame.

The end product of the company's Aenimal project, the proof-of-concept frame is made of polylactic acid (PLA) using fused deposition modeling (FDM) – that's the type of 3D printing in which objects are built up a layer at a time, from a molten polymer.

PLA is itself a biopolymer, made from plant sources such as corn or sugarcane. Not only can discarded PLA products be melted down and made into new items, but because the material is biodegradable, they can also simply be composted.

Although it does still require energy to produce PLA filaments and then use them in a 3D printer, Eurocompositi claims that it requires less megajoules per kilogram of material than is required for other commonly-used polymers such as ABS or PET. Additionally, the Aenimal production facility is reportedly solar-powered.

The Aenimal Bhulk frame is made from individually-printed components that are then slotted/bonded together
The Aenimal Bhulk frame is made from individually-printed components that are then slotted/bonded together

As can be seen in the images, the frame is made from individually-printed components that are then slotted/bonded together. And as for how well such a frame holds up to real-world use, the company simply states, "The knowledge and experience of the Eurocompositi team have been fundamental to design the right tube shapes and dimensions, in order to maintain a certain stiffness and durability with a material that surely doesn’t have the mechanical characteristics of the most advanced composite materials."

The design team won a gold award for the Aenimal Bhulk, at last week's Eurobike show in Germany. There's no word on when or if it might reach commercial production.

Source: Eurocompositi

6 comments
Milton
I'd need to see a side by side cradle-to-grave report before I buy into this. As far as I know, Steel is also bio-degradable... and doesn't require a special bio-degradable facility to do so.
Artūrs Pupausis
"Steel is also bio-degradable..." Nope it's not Milton, but steel can be recycled infinite amount of times.
Jugen
On the list of things mankind should be making more sustainable I would say bicycle frames would be well down the page on that list.
Mark Salamon
While I can certainly appreciate the benefits of creating polymers from biological sources rather than fossil petroleum, large-scale production of bio-plastics from important food sources such as corn and sugar cane would not be wise. We have already seen how biofuels made from such foods have caused hardship in the world by inflating the price of these staples.
unklmurray
This is a real Kule idea Lets use Hemp as the re-newal resource!!
BikeWell
The author links to the Trek program that takes waste carbon fiber and "recycles" it. It must be noted that this "recycling" of fully molded and resined (glued) carbon fiber results in such an inferior product that it would never be reused in another bicycle. It's effectively the same process as making wood chips from a retired boat and making particle board. Yes, it can be reused, but never at the same performance requirements. Recycled carbon fiber is, at best, a replacement for products that would otherwise use plastic (fully recyclable) or fiberglass. If you want biodegradable, you have to go for funky wood or bamboo. If you want infinitely recyclable, you have to go for steel, aluminum, or titanium.