Bicycles have been around for well over 100 years, but manufacturing techniques continue to be refined for frames, safety gear, and accessories.
3D printing, especially using metal, is one of the more interesting manufacturing techniques in development. From the ultra high end to a few designs that you can make at home, here are six examples of this technique in use today to make bike parts.
3D Printed Mountain Bike
If there is one bike application that requires strong components, mountain bikes meant to absorb large drops have to be at the top of the list. In this 2014 article, Pinkbike reports on the first full frame that has been manufactured using 3D printing. As of the article’s writing, the bike wasn’t yet rideable, but a test of the seat tower was quite promising.
Soda Bottle Fender Mount
On the other end of the rigidity spectrum comes a 3D printed mount for use with a soda bottle as a fender. A fun idea if you ride in wet areas and are tired of your pants getting muddy.
3D Printed Bicycle Helmet
Bicycle helmets, according to this article, are essentially all the same with regards to safety. Researchers at Cardiff University are attempting to use supercomputing and 3D printed materials to develop something better than we have today. I would suspect that once it gets past the prototyping stage, more traditional manufacturing methods will be used for mass production.
Bike Light Mount Repair
Things break on bikes. It’s inevitable if you ride long enough. Although you can generally buy a replacement, if you have a 3D printer, you can simply print your own. On the other hand, it does take time and resources to print a custom fixture like this, part of which is addressed in Step 4.
3D Printed Lugs
The bike seen above is an impressive display of weight-reduction, weighing in at an incredibly slim 4.9 kg (10.8 lbs)! This weight is attained using 3D printed lugs (the gold-colored pieced) to attach the structure together, as well as a belt drive instead of a traditional metal chain.
3D Printed Wall Mount
Bike hangers come in all shapes and sizes. Now they also come 3D printed. This mount is shown hanging the bike vertically, with both wheels resting on the attached post. The article notes which direction to print in for highest strength, although does not say what kind of load it’s capable of holding. It seems to hold the bike in the picture well enough, but you might not want to attach your dedicated downhill “sled” to it!