A student team from TU Delft in the Netherlands have pushed the boundaries of 3D printing by designing and producing a fully functional 3D printed stainless steel bicycle. The students designed the frame to demonstrate the potential of this new method for 3D printing.
The students achieved the goal of their three-month project by printing the frame of the bicycle with the help of MX3D in Amsterdam. The bicycle was designed as part of a research project at the Industrial Design Engineering faculty into the viability of metal 3D printing using a welding machine.
“3D printing has exploded in popularity in the last decade but for those wanting to print medium to large scale objects, there are still significant limitations in the technology. This method of 3D printing makes it possible to produce medium to large scale metal objects with almost total form freedom.” – Harry Anderson (Arc Bicycle team)
The students proved the frame’s strength by riding the bicycle around the city of Delft. It weighs about the same as a normal steel bicycle, performing well on the often bumpy cobblestone streets of the city. The first of its kind, the students hope that others will build on their research when designing 3D printed bicycles in the future.
“It was important for us to design a functional object that people use everyday. 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.” – Stef de Groot (Arc Bicycle team)
The frame was printed with the help of MX3D, an R&D start up in Amsterdam, who specialises in multi-axis 3D printing. The company has developed a ground breaking method for using multi axis robotic arms as 3D printers. This allows metals and resins to be printed mid-air in any direction without the need for support structures. The company made world news last year when it released plans to 3D print a steel bridge in Amsterdam.
MX3D invited the students to use their equipment to create something to showcase the new technology. and that would help test the print software they, together with partners such as Autodesk and Arcelor Mittal, are developing for the bridge project.