Press print and pedal to work

Titanium bikes are the dream of many bicycle enthusiasts. Elegant and seemingly indestructible with an ideal weight-to-strength ratio, titan frames are considered the Ferrari of bikes – and used to be just as expensive. This is about to change thanks to the unique possibilities of 3D printing.

Using the unique possibilities 3D printing offers, the bicycle manufacturing industry has just taken one more step to truly transform itself: The Portland-based design consultancy INDUSTRY collaborated with TiCycles and I3DMFG to manufacture a bike named SOLID, the first fully connected 3D printed titanium bike.

Titanium bikes are the dream of many bicycle enthusiasts. Elegant and seemingly indestructible with an ideal weight-to-strength ratio, titan frames are considered the Ferrari of bikes – and used to be just as expensive. This is about to change: Additive manufacturing allows not only for cost and time savings but also provides a whole array of advantages, as Garret Stenson, strategic marketing director at the design consultancy INDUSTRY explains:

“3D printing changes the game in manufacturing by enabling cost-effective, low volume production of parts that cannot be traditionally machined.” The bicycle craftsmen can use the new tool for tailoring their products to customer demands – for example, latticing for weight reduction, custom fit and specialty logos or branded designs.

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The speed and possibilities of additive manufacturing astonishes even insiders: “90 % of the frame went from being dust in a bag to the most intricate bike parts on the planet in something like 30 hours”, says Eric Herboth, operations manager at TiCycles fabrication. While SOLID is the first fully connected bike, several bike manufacturers have experimented with 3D printing in the past months.

And even though each individual aspect of the SOLID bike has been done before, it is the first connected 3D printed titanium lifestyle bike. It integrates Bluetooth app pairing, GPS and other technology features. The companion app “Discover my city” features five curated journeys from a ride through the forest to a culinary city tour. The app communicates with the bike to navigate.

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Integrating technology is a trend in the bike industry that is well underway. “From Strava to PowerTap to Shimano’s Di2 and Campagnolo’s EPS and Light On’s Dynolight Power, electronics have been showing up in bikes for years”, says INDUSTRY’s Garett Stenson whose clients include Nike, Starbucks, Intel, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Red Bull. “SOLID, aided by the advent of Arduino, helps unify those technologies for increased performance and ease of use”.

“Many elements of the SOLID bike, with complex internal voids, would be impossible to machine from solid material”, says TiCycles’s master builder David Levy. “3D printing is ideal for customization, as there is no need for retooling for every change to a part.” The SOLID is a prototype and it will take large volume orders to realize the cost savings that 3D printing offers.

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