3D Printing

How 3D Printing Can Turn a Bicycle into a “Flying Machine”

The FM Studio in Perth, Australia, is a creative hub that experiments with new technologies to transform the bicycles they make into “Flyingmachines”, beautiful works of art that hang on the white walls of the studio. For their latest creation, the 3DP-F1, they turned to 3D printing to create cutting-edge custom titanium lugs. They are among the first to apply 3D printing technologies to commercially available custom bicycles. Another previous amazing project, the VRZ 2 BELT by designer Ralf Holleis, was in fact a personal study in 3D printing and bicycle design.

FM 3D Printed Titanium Lugs Bicycle

To actually make the first prototype, tailored to the exact measurements of the company’s owner (who is also one of the designers), Matthew Andrew, they used the lugs to join the titanium frame tubes. Lugged metal frames have become less popular due to the limitations with variation in their geometry. If properly treated, Carbon fibre frames offer excellent quality and significantly reduced weight, however, when a bicycle is to be a work of art, only the best materials should be employed and titanium just gives it that look of elegant excellence, along with extreme lightness and high performance in terms of structural integrity.

3D printing technologies now allow for infinite flexibility: all bikes can be tailor made to the owner’s geometry but this is still extremely complex. To bring this project to life FM Studio worked with CSIRO’s (the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization) Melbourne based Titanium Technology Division and had access to the  “only 3D printer in the southern hemisphere capable of producing our titanium parts.” The 3D printed lugs are relatively small and can be turned around very rapidly: FM Studio is aiming to be able to produce a fully tailored geometry custom frame within 10 days from order.

FM 3D Printed Titanium Lug Bicycle

“Frame tailoring will be done through a specific set of accurate body measurements being taken”, Matt explained. “We will work with the customer to identify their preference on riding style, which will then be combined and input into our CAD model to produce the frame geometry. This will then be taken into three dimensions through SolidWorks software and each of the 3D pieces will be adjusted accordingly and output for 3D printing”.

Matt plans on fully carrying out each order in about 3 weeks, which, for a custom built bike is already impressive. The best part, however, might be the prices: a 3DP-F1 Flying Machine will cost between 3.000 and 6.000 AUD (£1.600, €2.000, $2.600), which, as far as custom bicycles go, is a definite steal and was possible only through the collaboration with the CSIRO, aiming to stimulate the Australian titanium industry.

FM 3D Printed Titanium Bicycle

Unfortunately, for those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the ticket to Perth will raise final costs quite a bit. However soon we will likely be able to easily send in a full body 3D scan along with accurate personal geometry information. Then it will be just a matter of flying it home.

For all the bicycle lovers out there that would love to get their hands on it, here are some further specs.

Drivetrain – Gates Carbon Drive, Centretrack,  55 tooth front sprocket, 20 tooth rear
Hubs – White Industries M15, titanium cassette with single speed spacer kit
Rims – H + Son, Archetype
Spokes – DT Swisse, Competition
Tyres – Schwalbe, Durano
Saddle – Fizik, Aliante VS
Handlebars – FM Custom
Forks – FM Custom Carbon
Bar Tape – Dipell, Competition, leather
Bottom Bracket – Bushnell Featherweight eccentric, with White Industries Ti spindle BB
Brakes –  Tektro, R570 calipers with RL340 levers

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