Last year was an exciting giant leap into the world of 3D printing when I worked on a 3D printed bike frame for my university Honours project. Materialise were the first to publish my story, and since then it’s been quite hectic (in a good way of course!). Now it’s a new year, I’ve moved into a PhD, and my research has taken new direction; however the interest in this bike seems to be still quite high, and I have just completed a new version of the bike to be permanently exhibited at the Griffith University visitors centre.
Unlike the original frame, which was printed in a single piece by Materialise using SLA technology, this one has been printed in polyamide using SLS from Shapeways (simply due to cost). The SLA frame was a delicate thing to manage, and really showed its limitations over the hot Australian summer when it literally melted whilst stored in my house! So with a new opportunity to print something a little more durable (without costing a giant pile of cash) SLS is the next best option. The limitation with SLS however is the smaller print volume, requiring the frame to be cut into 3 segments and glued together after printing. It certainly feels a bit more durable, although before anyone asks, no this still can’t be ridden! With SLS printing still limited by size, it will be some years before titanium or composite fiber material printers are able to print this in 1 piece… But it will be exciting when it happens 🙂
– Posted by James Novak