A bicycle-powered welder

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A few months ago, I mentioned Specialized and Google’s Innovate or Die contest, which challenged participants to create a machine that “transforms pedaling energy into a new and useful purpose”. At the end of that post, I asked any Bicycle Design readers who entered the contest to let me know about it. Well, the deadline for entry just passed, and a reader, Mike Hall, sent me a link to his team’s entry on YouTube.

Mike and the group made an inertia friction welder powered by a bicycle. You can check out their entry video right here. The video shows the pedal powered machine in action as it welds 2 pieces of aluminum together. The resulting weld joint may not be the prettiest I have ever seen, but it is really exciting to see the machine working right before your eyes. I watched the video several times and I think that you all will enjoy it as well (I especially liked the slightly “out of tolerance” comment). As you watch, you will see that all the guys involved in the project are obviously excited to see their hard work pay off. Nice work guys.

In addition to the video link, Mike passed along a few stats about the machine that his team made:

Flywheel weight – approx 150 kg

Gear ratio to flywheel – 5.79:1

Gear ratio flywheel to work piece – 37:19

Flywheel energy – 30 Kilojoules @ 500 rpm (I think we only managed around 400-450 rpm though)

Also on the subject of “Innovate or Die”, Cyclelicious recently posted about a group of MIT cyclists who generated 1.2kw to power a supercomputer in response to the challenge. Read more about that entry here.

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5 Comments

  1. Marrock December 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm -  Reply

    That’s brilliant, the giggling really sells it too.

  2. bikesgonewild December 20, 2007 at 10:21 pm -  Reply

    …nice to think that should the infrastructure grid break down, there’s a reasonably handy alternative…

  3. Anonymous December 28, 2007 at 2:14 pm -  Reply

    A form of friction-stir welding, only human powered :-o !

  4. weldershop January 28, 2008 at 9:34 am -  Reply

    Thats amazing…

    I bet if you where to hook that flywheel up to a transmission you could get that bike to go pretty fast.
    If you did it right you would even have the added gyro effect to keep you upright.

    that would be cool.

  5. vintagebicycle June 26, 2008 at 3:29 pm -  Reply

    Thats a really interesting idea.

    @weldershop, actually I saw something kind of like that in oregon once. It was a three wheeled vehicle that was powered by a combination of a small 2 cycle engine, batteries, an electric motor and a huge flywheel.

    The guy who had built it said he gets something like 300 MPG, but that doesn’t factor in the small amount of electricity used to recharge the batteries at the end of the day.

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