By i3d

i3D MFG™ 3D Prints Titanium Bicycle

i3D™ Manufacturing joined INDUSTRY and Ti Cycles in creating a 3D printed titanium bicycle as Portland’s entry for the 2014 Oregon Manifest Bike Design contest. 3D printing is a perfect solution for those wanting to manufacture a tailor-made product. Whether aesthetics, function, weight reduction, design innovations, or exotic metal cost effectiveness are the goals, additive manufacturing is a game-changer for design and manufacture. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) produces functional production parts by fuses 20-40 micron layers of metal powders together from a 3D CAD model. Multiple CAD models can be built on a single run, facilitating cost effective single part production, allowing for multiple versions of the same part to be run simultaneously for evaluation, and reducing lead times from weeks or months to hours and days. Exotic metals like Titanium and Inconel become cost effective because DMLS is a no waste process – after the micro lasers are laser melted together, the left over powder is vacuumed back into the machine and reused. Traditional manufacturing of these costly metals often resulted in as much as 70% scrap, making Titanium cost prohibitive despite its perfect match for the bicycle industry’s weight and strength property requirements. While working with Titanium proved more difficult than other DMLS metals, i3D MFG™ added supports and geometry adjustments for structural rigidity and thermal dissipation to offset tolerance and creep issues created by mass, height, and stress relief. Custom latticed parts, innovative fork crown geometries, and organic frame lines were all possible using 3D printing. Design-for-3D erases all traditional manufacturing limitations, including minimum order quantities, machine lines, and complex assemblies. Furthermore, the weldability and post process properties of 3D printed parts is generally better than cast parts and comparable to machined parts.  Read 3D Print News’ interview with Ti Cycles or designboom’s article for details on this exciting Titanium bicycle project.