3D Printed Bike to Hit the Streets
French 3D printing company Sculpteo have recently unveiled their latest project- a 3D printed bike. Created and manufactured using digital technology, the bike was displayed at the consumer technology trade show CES 2017 in Las Vegas. It was after this show that the bikes designers, Alexandre d’Orsetti and Piotr Widelka, decided to take the bike for a test run. And by test run, that means a 1,000km road trip to the firm’s factory in San Francisco to proves it efficency, and the place a 3D printed bike can have in the industry.
Why go for Printed Bikes?
Sculpteo says its ‘Darwin bike’ is the first fully functional digitally manufactured bike. The bike has been made with 70% 3D printing technology and laser cutters, allowing the bike many advantages over the competition.
A relatively new advancement in technology, it is no surprise that some may be skeptical of a bicycle coming from a computer. But with the advancements in 3D modelling technology in the past twenty or so years, as can be seen in television and videogame graphics, designers have been able to add more details than ever before, and have complete control of their products. These bikes can be meticulously designed and re-designed, and allow for more attention to detail in bikes than ever before. But this isn’t the only reason to invest in a printed bike.
Firstly, any 3D printed bike, or any 3D printed device, for that matter, needs far less physical labour to create. 3D printing technology allows models to be designed in 3D modelling program, before being sent to the printer, which will create the product with special plastic material. Laser cutting is equally physical labour free, with designs no longer having to be hand lasered or carved- for this 3D printed bike, designs can be implemented with just a tap of a button.
Secondly, a 3D printed bike has access to far more creative choices than traditionally made bikes. Modelling and design software is made with creativity in mind, and for a 3D printed bike, this mean access to tools and ideas outside the norm. These printed bikes are new, and experimental, and don’t have to follow the rules set up by cycling tradition. A printed bike also has access to far more options for customisation, with colours, engravings and other features easily changed to be printed in the model next iteration.
Alexandre d’Orsetti and Piotr Widelka started working on the project at the beginning of November with d’Orsetti pointing out that the variety of components constituted a good test of 3D printing and laser cutting technology.
“This diversity of elements, with specific constraints (structure, comfort, settings, etc) allowed us to split the project into several sub-projects, and to choose, for each one of them, which technology and material would fit best.”
He added that digital manufacturing allowed them to produce finished parts, not just models or prototypes. “This means we can work with the materials and their specific characteristics, when conceiving our finished object.
“Having a real, finished object in your hands just two days after ordering it gives a great amount of flexibility and allows to go back and forth many times between different iterations until your object fits its final use.
“The bike we built is meant to keep adapting and improving according to the challenges it will face and the applications that will be made of it, as well as the feedbacks we’ll get about it.”
According to the latest update about their trip, from Friday, the two designers had been through the Mojave National Reserve and reached Bakersfield.