German startup rides out on 3D-printed bicycle tires
Leave the bike pump at home, you won't be needing it. Berlin-based startup BigRep has signaled a possible end to punctures by 3D printing airless bicycle tires and taking to the streets of the German capital to show them off.
The bicycle tire prototype was developed to "demonstrate the ease and speed at which flexible spare parts can be 3D printed," while also serving to promote the versatility of the company's thermoplastic polyurethane Pro FLEX filament. It was created to scale using the company's ONE 3D printer, which has a one cubic meter build volume, and didn't require any post-processing or gluing.
"We have expanded our technical portfolio with a high-impact, high-temperature-resistant material in Pro FLEX, which has higher interlayer-bonding than we have ever seen before, and robust chemical resistance for a range of technical applications," said company CEO Stephan Beyer. "There is a clear use case for flexible parts that can be customized and printed on a needs basis, across med-tech, aerospace, automotive and other industries."
It follows the successful printing of an ornate custom automotive wheel rim a few weeks ago using another filament capable of resisting high temperatures, and which was designed to show the time-saving benefits of prototyping using 3D printing technology.
Like airless tire designs from the likes of Michelin, the BigRep prototype replaces the air inside a tire with complex support structures, in this case a three-layered honeycomb design. The pattern and density of the infill can be customized for different biking activities, such as mountain biking and road racing, or different conditions like rain or cobbled streets.
The tire prototype is reported capable of withstanding the demands of city cycling, as you can see in the short video below.