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The EADS Airbike and other links

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  1. A. Rant says

    I am all for new technology and new processes but I saw this on BBC news and it looked like it was flexing and wobbling while the presenter was holding it never mind when he tried to ride it. So apart from how inappropriate this material is (at this stage) for bicycle construction, the geometry is just a joke. To me this is as bad as the numerous ill-conceived CAD models that flood any Internet image search when the words “bicycle” and “design” are used. It’s a shame that these creations steal attention away from real, innovative and responsible bicycle designers.

    A. Rant

  2. Ross Nicholson says

    I think that this bike looks GREAT! It is only by stretching the envelope that we will ever get anywhere.
    Bicycle design takes the rap for the ultra-conservative bicycle evolution that has kept racing bicycles static in design since the 1930′s. I welcome innovation, especially from corporate sources like EADS. Surely, design acclaim cannot be considered a zero-sum game. Hopefully, someone will get the break-through we are all hoping for.

  3. Steve A says

    It looks like conventional stereolithography. How does the build differ?

  4. Andrew says

    I’m almost certain it’s standard selective laser sintering (SLS) with nylon. It doesn’t strike me as exceptionally novel from a manufacturing point of view, except that no one has really bothered to make a full-sized bike before.

    Given that bicycles are largely stiffness-critical structures, nylon is not really a practical material to use. It would take a tube 6x the diameter of an aluminium one to achieve equivalent stiffness, but the density of nylon is 3x less, so you’re likely looking at something that will necessarily be much heavier.

    Still, it’s a neat project. Though frankly, I have other ideas for 3D-printed applications relating to bikes that I think make a lot more sense.

    One detail on this bike that is very thoughtful is the design of the saddle that achieves cushioning through the inherent flexibility of nylon and the auxetic structure they’ve made.

  5. mommus says

    I like the idea behind it, as an example of that ‘British high-tech engineering’ (from a french company??) that we require to invigorate our export markets… but is a bike like this really the best way to promote it? I think it rather gives the impression that we are using very high tech manufacturing just for the sake of it. You could build a stronger, lighter bicycle frame with a saw, some bamboo and a tube of araldite.
    I’m sure there are uses for STL like this. I’ve seen it used for medical modeling prior to bone and structural surgery. I’m sure it would also be great for forming gnarly dildos.

  6. Mark says

    Although the design shows thinking outside the box, I think 3D printing is only suitable for prototyping, for now at least. I also think that nylon is a terrible material for a bike frame. To be as stiff as a steel bike It would have to be heavier. BTW a number of years ago there was a lot of space given in the engineering press about an all-plastic bicycle, but I never saw anything come of it. Does anyone else remember it?

  7. jason says

    In the not to distant future, we will all have 3D printers in our home and will be able to print what we want by downloading the CAD file to our cell phone. This can be done today for small parts. The manufacturing base will shift from Asia to in your home before your eyes.
    The biggest obstacle to this now is the lack of machines that print multiple materials at the same time.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. La revolución de las impresoras 3D - Imprimen ya casi de todo. linked to this post on January 19, 2013

    [...] lado, el gigante aeronáutico europeo EADS ha demostrado con su bicicleta impresa Airbike las posibilidades de su proceso de fabricación aditiva (impresión 3D en gran fromato, a [...]

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