Renishaw has collaborated with British bicycle company Empire Cycles to create what is said to be the world’s first 3D-printed metal bike frame, built on Renishaw’s AM250 additive manufacturing system.
Empire designed the mountain bike to be stronger and lighter, using a process called topological optimization. Topological optimization software uses iterative steps and finite element analysis to determine “logical” material placement. Design, construction and performance advantages of the additive process include blending complex shapes or hollow structures with internal strengthening features, flexibility to make design improvements right up to the start of production, and the convenience of making one-off parts as easily as batches, which allows for customization. The bike’s titanium alloy frame, which is about 33 percent lighter than the original aluminum alloy frame, was manufactured in sections and bonded together.