First metal 3D printed bicycle frame manufactured by Renishaw for Empire Cycles

renishawbike300The Gloucestershire-based engineering firm Renishaw has collaborated with British bicycle design and manufacturing company Empire Cycles to create the world’s first 3D printed metal bike frame.

Empire Cycles designed the mountain bike to take advantage of Renishaw’s additive manufacturing technology, allowing them to create a titanium frame that would be both strong and light using topological optimisation – the new frame is one third lighter than the original.

frame150The frame has been additively manufactured in titanium alloy in sections and bonded together. Renishaw claims to be the UK’s only manufacturer of a metal-based additive manufacturing machine that prints metal parts.

Empire managing director Chris Williams said there were lighter carbon fibre bikes available, but, “The durability of carbon fibre can’t compare to a metal bike, they are great for road bikes, but when you start chucking yourself down a mountain you risk damaging the frame. I over-engineer my bikes to ensure there are no warranty claims”.

Williams had already produced a full size 3D printed replica of his current bike before he approached Renishaw, so had a good idea of what he wanted to achieve.

Renishaw originally agreed to optimise and manufacture the seat post bracket only, but after this proved successful, decided the whole frame was a practical goal. The design was updated with guidance from Renishaw’s applications team.

Renishaw said the potential performance has not been completely explored yet, but hopes to continue to develop the project.

The wheels, drive train and components required to finish the bike were provided by Hope Technology Ltd.

 Copyright Ken Hurst 2014


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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