World’s first 3-D printed carbon bicycle

Posted on 08 Jun 2018 and read 647 times
World’s first 3-D printed carbon bicycleComposites Manufacturing magazine says that Arevo Inc — a Silicon Valley start-up with backing from the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency — has produced what it says is the world’s first carbon fibre bicycle with a 3-D printed frame.

Typically, carbon fibre bikes are costly to make, because they require individual layers of carbon fibre impregnated with resin to be laid — by hand — around a mould of the bike’s frame, which is then baked in an oven to ‘cure’ the resin and bind the carbon fibre layers together.

However, Arevo’s technology combines 3-D printing with Web-based software and customised raw materials. A ‘deposition head’ mounted on a robotic arm is used to print out the three-dimensional shape of the bicycle frame.

In one step, the head lays down strands of carbon fibre and melts a thermoplastic material to bind the strands. The process requires almost no human labor and allows Arevo to build bicycle frames for about $300.

Vinod Khosla, of venture capital firm Khosla Venture, said: “Arevo’s approach is a significant leap forward as it is truly 3-D printing rather than stacked 2-D printing, which is what most of us are accustomed to.

“Arevo is moving 3-D printing beyond ‘novelty’ applications and into mainstream manufacturing with its software, robotics and composite materials.”

Arevo says it is using the bike to demonstrate the potential of the technology, which it hopes could one day be used to produce parts for all applications where designers want to make carbon fibre parts but are hesitant due to the high cost and labour-intensive process of making them.

Jim Miller, Arevo’s newly appointed CEO, said: “We have the technology, team and tools to commercialise our software and fabrication process to build high-strength parts that the manufacturing industry hasn’t been able to conceive and construct before.”

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