EADS Airbike is a rideable 3D-printed nylon bicycle that takes advantage of a new crop of powder-and-laser three dimensional printers to create a frame and components that are strong enough to actually use.
The current spate of 3D printers form prototypes from either a powder or gel, often using lasers to solidify the matter in layers based on CAD or other computer renderings. This one was designed by EADS (European Aerospace and Defence Group) and uses a process called additive layer manufacturing, a process similar to 3D printing but with the addition of laser sintering to reinforce the final product. This gives it teh same strength of steel or aluminum at just over half the weight. What that means is that prototypes can now be made that can be used (in some applications) to test a concept under real world conditions.
It also means that in the near future, we’ll be able to manufacturer our own designs or simply download a blueprint and send it to our home 3D printer. Manufacturing On Demand will likely become as common as Video On Demand…now we just need a Netflix of product blueprints.
Photo via Engadget, more after the break…
This image courtesy of the BBC.