Bicycles

Robotic welding arm used to 3D print a stainless steel bike

Robotic welding arm used to 3D...
TU Delft's Arc Bicycle
TU Delft's Arc Bicycle
View 10 Images
TU Delft's Arc Bicycle
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TU Delft's Arc Bicycle
The finished product is claimed to weigh about as much as a traditional steel-framed bike
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The finished product is claimed to weigh about as much as a traditional steel-framed bike
The ***** is fully capable of being ridden on rough cobblestone streets
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The ***** is fully capable of being ridden on rough cobblestone streets
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle
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A detail of the Arc Bicycle
The Arc Bicycle team
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The Arc Bicycle team
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Although they're still far from being common, 3D-printed metal bicycle frames do now exist. Usually they're made using a sintering process, in which a laser is utilized to selectively melt steel powder, building it up in successive layers. Now, however, a team of students at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands has taken another approach – they've created the world's first stainless steel bike made via a welding-based 3D-printing technique.

The students worked with Amsterdam-based company MX3D, which helped bring us the Mataerial 3D printer in 2013. Unlike traditional 3D printers, which build up objects horizontally on a flat stage, the Mataerial uses a robotic arm to extrude resin onto horizontal or vertical surfaces. Those columns of resin can be curved and linked together as they're being extruded, quickly hardening into modern art-like creations.

More recently, MX3D created a version that "prints" in welded metal. It starts by laying down a blob of molten metal, then adds another blob on top of it once it's hardened, and continues that process until it's created an entire metal column. By controlling the point in space at which the welds are made, it's possible to control the orientation of the columns, even getting them to interlace with one another. No supporting materials are needed, and quite large structures can be created.

MX3D is already using the technique to build a pedestrian bridge, but it approached TU Delft about the possibility of doing something else to demonstrate the potential of the technology. The bike was the result. Its frame was built in several main sections, which were then welded to one another by hand.

A detail of the Arc Bicycle
A detail of the Arc Bicycle

Called the Arc Bicycle, the finished product is claimed to weigh about as much as a traditional steel-framed bike, and is fully capable of being ridden on rough cobblestone streets.

"It was important for us to design a functional object that people use everyday," says team member Stef de Groot. "Being students in the Netherlands, a bicycle naturally came to mind. A bicycle frame is a good test for the technology because of the complex forces involved."

The Arc Bicycle can be seen in action – and being created – in the video below.

Sources: TU Delft, MX3D

Arc Bicycle | 3D-Printing stainless steel

View gallery - 10 images
8 comments
MQ
Just a few quality and finishing issues to solve, no challenge is unsolvable, though many prove unviable.
riczero-b
Beautiful! Maybe also usable in airplane construction -complex shapes with rigidity and lightness..
unklmurray
I'm glad the video was only 2min long.......the more high tech... the worse the music and-or-background noise is. their background noise sucks.....they sure didn't waste money making the audio portion......LOL
Morton
The welds really do look messy. Maybe they could take a grinder to it and clean it up. Otherwise, I like where this is headed.
PaulJennings
Great article
NicoleBinns
They did not even come anywhere close to utilizing the potential of the medium. Its design is exactly the same as a normal bicycle, except it's all 'webby-looking.' Why make a bike that is designed exactly the same as a normal bike? They totally ignored ergonomics and didn't even consider that improved ergonomics could be a desirable use of this medium. For example, a step-through frame, so that old ladies with worn-out, painful hip joints no longer have to kick their friggin' leg up over the back of the wheel to mount the bike. If you are limited by a step through frame, that's exactly the reason why you need to be capable of making stronger lightweight frames elsewhere, if you get rid of that stupid, horrible bar that runs from the seat to the handlebars that prevents you from getting on the bike easily and crushes vulnerable parts of your body if you have an accident, stop suddenly, slide forward off the seat, or simply lose your balance and topple over for any reason at all. Ergonomics, people! Step-through frames! The potential of the medium is to make that bottom bar of a step-through frame strong enough to support everything, yet more lightweight, so that ergonomics can finally be achieved with equal strength. It frustrates me that I am not an engineer. I would care about things that actually matter.
Leonard Foster Jr
Ahhh is that chain rubbing ???
Racqia Dvorak
A set up utilizing three to four nozzles and filament streaming could make a much more sturdy, effective, and material efficient design.