Having previously worked with bicycle brands in the past, RAM3D’s 3D printing expertise was called upon by Sturdy Cycles owner Tom Sturdy to produce parts for his three road bike models, in order to create designs and structures unable to be manufactured using traditional methods. The firm is also advising Sturdy on new designs for his bespoke bikes and involving him in the 3D printing process.
Sturdy is looking to launch a Time Trial specialist bike in 2021 to line up alongside his existing 3D printed models, and may consider designing and producing a customized e-bike with help from 3D printing in the future.
Sturdy and RAM3D’s partnership
Sturdy’s design process begins with a bike fitting to ensure the bike will be fully customized to that specific customer, from which data is used to develop both the geometry and structural design of the bike. RAM3D then deploys its 3D printing technology, using an SLM Solutions 280HL 3D printer, to produce the bike frame and some components.
All of RAM3D’s titanium 3D printed parts are heat treated in order to reduce residual stresses developed during fabrication, in addition to optimizing the ductility, machinability, and dimensional and structural stability of the part.
According to Sturdy, additive manufacturing allows the production of frame geometries and structures not possible by conventional techniques. Being able to harness the significant strength and weight-saving benefits of titanium through 3D printing has been a gamechanger.
“There is the purist element with titanium, it doesn’t need to be painted or finished and for a lot of people, that is quite a big appeal,” he said. The increased customization made possible by RAM3D’s 3D printing technology is now an integral part of Sturdy’s bespoke bike frame business.
At its headquarters, RAM3D also has seven Renishaw AM250 SLM machines running Stainless Steel 15-5ph, Stainless Steel 316L, Inconel 718 and Aluminium AlSi10Mg.
3D printing in the bike sector
The bicycle industry has long embraced additive manufacturing technologies, with several manufacturers opting for 3D printing technologies over traditional methods for the production of bike frames and components. With its excellent strength to weight ratio, titanium is a desirable manufacturing material for bicycles, and is being increasingly employed hand in hand with 3D printing within the cycle sector.
Earlier this year, global engineering group Sandvik announced a collaboration with e-bike engineering and design consultancy GSD Global to 3D print titanium motor nodes for e-bikes for several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Elsewhere, Australian custom bike manufacturer Bastion Cycles purchased an AM250 3D printer from UK-based additive manufacturing specialist Renishaw, in order to bring its previously out-sourced 3D printing operations in-house.
More recently, a modern titanium mountain bike from Huhn Cycles, which offers the same lightness and stiffness as those manufactured from carbon, took first place in this year’s Formnext Purmundus Challenge. Titanium offers sustainability benefits over carbon fiber frames as they can be recycled over and over again. But despite its short lifecycle, numerous manufacturers are still keen to explore carbon’s potential for 3D printing bicycle frames and components.
One of these includes Silicon Valley firm AREVO which is working with new California-based start-up Superstrata to 3D print fully-unified carbon composite frames for its upcoming e-bikes. The frame is produced in a single piece using AREVO’s continuous carbon fibre 3D printing technology, eliminating the need for glues or welding to hold components together. Carbon 3D printed parts have also been used on Urwahn Bikes‘ Schmolke Edition bike, developed at lightweight bike component specialist Schmolke Carbon.
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Featured image shows RAM3D’s 3D printing expertise was called upon by Sturdy Cycles owner Tom Sturdy to produce parts for his three road bike models. Image via RAM3D.