Yes, you can. You can 3D print anything, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to last you long, or even work in the first place. Go and take a cold shower and once you’ve calmed down, read the rest of this article.
I love Instructables.com, but look at these incredibly detailed instructions for printing a 3D carbon fibre bike frame. Step 2 details what you need, including the “absolutely essential” 3D printed lug joints. Maybe you can ask QuirkCycles.com to sell you some of theirs?
This video shows Rob Quirk explaining to Francis Cade that the advantage of 3D printed lugs is their consistency and precision – which is better than traditionally weld’n’cut lugs. This will significantly reduce the time you spend building your 3D bike. As well as improving its quality.
Additive process reduces waste
Your biggest weakness is often your greatest strength, and titanium is proof of that. Titanium is heavier and denser than aluminium. But that density translates into formidable strength meaning you can use less of it while retaining structural integrity. Pound for pound this makes titanium less expensive.
Traditionally, frame making is a subtractive process, reducing excess tubing to fit frame size. But printing is additive and can result in less excess material being wasted. GCN Tech show the beautiful result of a clever 3D design – but the beauty is more than skin deep. Lower waste should result in lower prices for bikes that perfectly fit.
Shaping the future
While stunningly innovative UCI approved bikes like the WX-R Vorteq, there’s nothing to stop rogue manufacturers pushing the aesthetic of bicycles far beyond the traditional. This is where the MX3D Arc Bike II steps up to the plate.
Unrestrained by the fair competition requirements the UCI regulates, frame manufacturers can exploit 3D printing to produce other-worldly and exotic looking frames. How commercially viable these designs are remains to be seen – especially as you could just design the bike yourself. It’s likely that, for now at least, the only winners are the 3D printing companies.