The New E-Bike: Extremely Strong and Very Light
If you’re passionate about biking, wouldn’t it be wonderful to drive a bike that’s as light as carbon, yet strong and tough in all terrain. That is soon to be a reality when AREVO, a Silicon Valley company dedicated to direct digital additive manufacturing of composite materials, and SUPERTRATA, a new California-based start-up, will 3D print the fully-unified carbon composite frames for its future e-bikes. AREVO has launched a range of carbon fiber and carbon nanotube materials, which were reportedly stronger than steel, paving the way into bike production. The company started 3D printing bike frames for California based Franco Bicycles, under the brand Emery Bikes, using Direct Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printing technology.
Custom 3D Printed Unibody Bike
Superstrata collaborated with AREVO to make the “world’s first” custom 3D printed unibody bike. Using AREVO’s continuous carbon fibre 3D printing technology, Superstrata built the frame in a single piece, not using glues or welding to hold its individual components together. It resulted in the bike frame being “extremely impact-resistant,” and using carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics, it was lightweight, reportedly weighing less than two bottles of water or 1.3 kg.
AREVO’s 3D printing process allowed for significant customization on the bikes. Each frame can be individually crafted based on 18 precise measurements, ensuring a custom fit for riders from 4’7” to 7’4”. There are additional adjustable settings such as ride position and stiffness level, and over hundreds of thousand combinations. Two versions of the bicycle will be made available in later 2020, one can be fully charged in two hours, providing for up to a 55-mile range, while both bikes have integrated data and power wiring, enabling a variety of electronic upgrades. These include customization to have different riding styles (racing, street, gravel, or touring), wheel materials (metal or carbon fiber), or colorways (light or dark).
There are many other companies that have also 3D printed improved bike frames.
There’s Renishaw, a metal 3D printer manufacturer that worked with Lotus, British automotive firm, and bicycle engineering company Hope Technology, to design a new track bike for the Great Britain Cycling Team in 2019. Likewise, MX3D, the Amsterdam-based Robotic Additive Manufacturing (RAM) technology developer 3D printed from aluminum using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology. There’s Quirk Cycles, a bespoke bicycle framebuilding company, also showcased a bike frame design at the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show in 2019, utilizing 3D metal printing, creating a stainless steel bolt and clamp system for the bike’s seatpost, resulting in a seamless metal design.