European Engineers Create World's 1st "Printed" BicycleMarch 9, 2011 0 Comments
The European Aerospace and Defense Group (EADS) has unveiled the world’s first “printed” bicycle using a 3D printing process. Made of nylon strong enough to replace steel, the bicycle requires no assembly or maintenance.
Technically, they call their process Additive Layer Manufacturing, but in essence is the same as the 3D printing process. Powdered metal (such as titanium, steel or aluminum) is sintered by laser, layer by layer, to form a solid mass until the product is finished.
Compared to a traditional, machined part, those produced by ALM are up to 65% lighter but still as strong…ALM also offers a glimpse of wider potential benefits. The process itself uses about one-tenth of the material required in traditional manufacturing and reduces waste. On a global scale, ALM offers potential for products to be produced quickly and cheaply on ‘printers’ located in offices, shops and houses. It would allow replacement components to be produced in remote regions, improving logistics on humanitarian relief and military operations.
In the long term, 3D printing may eliminate the need for many factories to even exist in the first place. The press release also makes a point I hadn’t thought of before. Worldwide logistics will be revolutionized by 3D printing. It’s far easier to transport “metal powder” to a remote location than it is to transport a bicycle. And this logic can apply across the complete spectrum of modern day products. The product destination would only require a suitable 3D printer in order to supply the local population with whatever they need.