Renishaw Taking bike designs to new heights
A 3D printed titanium frame is a crowd puller at Euromold stand.
Designers are continually thinking up new and lighter designs for their bike frames, but the MX6 by Empire Cycles is using additive manufacturing technology to take two-wheeler design to new heights. The frame on show at the Renishaw stand is made of titanium, layer by layer in an AM250 laser melting machine. Why would someone consider making a 3D printed bike frame out of titanium? Well, the design is light, it is very robust and can be easily optimised. According to Renishaw, the frame built from fine titanium powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere layer by layer took around 2kg out of the original weight.
Robin Weston, marketing manager at the additive manufacturing products division at Renishaw, explained that Empire's Chris Williams approached Renishaw in the UK with the idea after experimenting with a pre-production 3D plastic model of his MX6. “Chris is already a little bit of a pioneer, he recognised that additive manufacturing could be useful in bike design, and I suppose his goal was really to make a much lighter bike and get noticed as a small company in a competitive landscape.” Williams started the Empire brand around six years ago, with the creation of the very unique AP1 downhill bike, which was his first head turner because it was said to be the first cast-framed bike out there.
According to Weston, the plan is to run this project for at least a year in partnership with Empire Cycles to develop the frame. The goal is to have a metal bike with the benefits of carbon fibre. And that is Renishaw’s strategy? Weston explained the plan: forming partnerships with customers and selling a solution, not a product. “For our customers to make a success of this technology, they need to have ownership of the process knowledge and we share that with them and help them. Our mission is to give our customers the knowledge, not a black box solution.”