While bicycle frames of carbon fiber and of titanium have previously been made using 3D printing techniques, the Arc Bicycle is said to be the first to be created using a 3D welding process.
MX3D-Metal uses a multi-axis industrial robot combined with a welding machine to print metals and resins in mid-air. So, while this sculptural, stainless steel two-wheeler would not appear out of place in a contemporary art gallery, it is actually the latest demonstration of the potential for affordable 3D printing of large and complex components of the type used in infrastructure and automobiles. MX3D and several partners plan to use the process to build a pedestrian bridge to span a canal in Amsterdam in 2017.
The Arc Bicycle evolved through a six-month research project into the viability of the 3D welding process. To me, the bike’s ropy armature called to mind the iconic Knotted Chair by Droog (others have made reference to Spider-Man), and indeed an earlier demonstration project of MX3D-Metal produced beautifully contoured furniture displayed at a New York City gallery.
“It was important for us to design a functional object that people use everyday,” Stef de Groot of the Delft TU team says of the current project. “Being students in the Netherlands, a bicycle naturally came to mind.”
De Groot calls the bicycle frame, which weighs about as much as a regular steel bike and stands up to Dutch cobbles, “a good test for the technology because of the complex forces involved.”
This fascinating video reveals how the Arc Bicycle frame is built up through individual welds, guided by a software program. At the conclusion, you’ll see the finished bike ridden through the streets of Delft.
Photos: Delft University of Technology