Amsterdam-based company MX3D has used wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) with a robotic arm and bespoke software to create the Arc Bike II. The same 3D printing software, which was developed by the company, was previously used to create the Arc, a bicycle composed of steel.
Arc II uses aluminum for its frame to save weight. However, the complete bike weighs in 29.7 lbs — compared to an average of 17 lbs for road bikes and 21-29 lbs for mountain bikes — due to the company’s still burgeoning technology. The aluminum bicycle is one of MX3D’s examples of how its WAAM software can be used for flexible on-demand printing.
MX3D software allows the bicycle frame to be tailor-made to fit the rider’s body proportions. Customers will be able to send the company their fit data (how they want the bike to be sized) and the software can program robotic arm manufacture the frame. In this way, a bicycle frame customized to fit to their exact specifications can be produced within 24 hours. The head tube, bottom bracket, and saddle fixings are drilled in to prepare the bike to be ridden after the frame is printed.
The start-up company doesn’t have plans to sell the bike on a large scale as of yet. “The hardware we use is standard industrial robots and welding machines,” said Thomas Van Glabeke, project leader. “Currently, we sell the software and we do print-on-demand services. These projects range from artworks to architectural elements to (large) metal components for the maritime, mining, oil and gas, and heavy industry. So, we are not necessarily focused on printing bicycles but we do take orders for them.”
“It took some time to master aluminium printing, which is more challenging than other metals, but the outcome was a convincing strong and lightweight bike,” said Van Glabeke. “After the initial technical challenges were solved, it was amazing to see the turnover speed from idea to final product. It is exciting. I can’t wait to see a whole family of these bikes rolling off the MX3D production line.”
The company aims to make the Arc Bike II available to purchase soon. They are available for pre-order via firstname.lastname@example.org.