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Can 3D printing reinvent the bicycle? Latest innovations from Reynolds and AREVO

Reynolds, a UK manufacturer of bicycle frames and components, is using metal 3D printing technology to develop a range of customizable stainless steel and titanium frame-parts.

With this range, Reynolds will streamline production processes for frame builders in the cycling industry.

Titanium frame components from Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.
Titanium frame components from Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.

Additively manufactured bespoke bicycles

With over a century of experience, Reynolds has seen the shifting demand for customizable bicycles for road, touring, and mountain expeditions. Avid riders wanting to construct a personalized bicycle would commonly go to frame builders with purchased groupsets – an organized collection of mechanical bicycle parts – for bicycle assembly.

However, with the capabilities of 3D printing stainless steel and titanium, frame builders can create unique components and bicycle frames with shortened production processes. These customized components,  that would otherwise be commercially unavailable, can be built to improve a cyclist’s riding experience.

A stainless steel prototype flat mount dropout from Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.
A stainless steel prototype flat mount dropout from Reynolds. This is a small tab of metal on the drive side of the bike where the rear wheel is anchored. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.

Streamlining bike-frame production 

Using metal 3D printing, Reynolds’ streamlined production process enables frame parts with cleaner edges and tighter tolerances. This removes the metering process for tubes on the bicycle – a time-consuming process for a frame builder.

Reynolds has also identified an increasing demand for production-run, semi-custom steel framesets. This is where its new range of parts will flourish within 3D production as there will no longer be a need for costly manufacturing processes involving file and emery cloth working on lugs and manual hacksawing.

3D printing also enables the production of far more intricate shapes than is possible with casting or forging. This allows the construction of internal pockets, which reduces the bicycle frame weight and holds internal cables.

Less time and money spent on traditional processes can then be translated into an aesthetically-pleasing, affordable, and high-performing bicycle.

3D-printed stainless-steel frame from British bicycle tubing specialists, Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.
3D-printed stainless-steel frame from British bicycle tubing specialists, Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.

The first 3D printed carbon-fiber eBike

Also recognizing the benefits of 3D printing technology for cycling is Arevo, a software-controlled additive manufacturing company based in Santa Clara. With an estimated $12.5 million raised in funding for its multi-axis robotic additive manufacturing platform, Arevo has created the world’s first battery-assisted, all-terrain bike using a 3D carbon fiber frame.

“We have created a new paradigm for manufacturing that empowers businesses to create and source products locally by leveraging advancements in dynamic software and automation,” said Jim Miller, CEO of Arevo.

“The development of the eBike has proven that we can 3D print a new product when needed, at a low cost and localize the manufacturing process – significantly cutting down on the process and time it has taken historically to create bike frames.”

In addition,  BMW Group recently leveraged metal 3D printing technology to create the highly-complex chassis of the BMW S1000RR motorcycle.

With the help of 3D printing and smart materials, the future of bicycle production and design will continue to progress.

AREVO's 3D printed bike frame. Photo via AREVO
AREVO’s 3D printed ebike frame. Photo via AREVO.

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Featured image shows 3D printed stainless-steel frame from British bicycle tubing specialists, Reynolds. Photo via Bikeradar/Jack Luke.

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