According to 3Ders, UK-based design company Empire Cycles, along with metal-based additive manufacturer Renishaw, have teamed up to create a 3D printed titanium alloy mountain bike frame: the Empire MX-6. The companies announced the completion of the frame this week.
Titanium alloy is a mixture of metals which contains titanium and other chemical elements – allowing for strength and durability, corrosion resistance, and the ability to hold up in extreme temperatures. Titanium alloy is also lightweight –a huge bonus in the world of cycling. The frame was printed in sections using titanium alloy, then bonded together.
Mountain bikes require durability and the tenacity to handle rough roads and extreme trail riding. 3D printing allowed the companies to create a unique and custom design that is both durable and lightweight. The companies started with a basic design, and then eliminated unnecessary materials from areas of the bike that experience low stress to create a design that was lightweight while still maintaining its strength.
The flexibility in design that 3D printing offers is ideal for producing bicycle frames with complex design, shapes, and other customized features.
The mountain bike frames have been tested using European standards that are maintained by CEN, and they performed well.
This 3D printed MX-6 bicycle frame showcases the potential that 3D printing technology has to improve the bicycle manufacturing process. This bike may signal the entrance into a world where 3D printing is incorporated into bicycle manufacturing.