Design firm Industry embraced 3D printing to build a titanium bike it calls the Solid. The technology can't yet produce an entire bike, but Industry used it to make 90 percent of the Solid bike's frame, including these complicated elements. 3D printing will usher in an age of products tailored to individual body shapes and sizes, the company believes.
The Solid bike is designed for urban transit -- but its real reason for existence is to let Industry suss out future design, engineering and manufacturing trends.
To design the Solid bike, Industry staff combined full-size drawings, computer-aided design software from Autodesk and 3D-printed prototype parts.
The Solid is accompanied by an app to explain the bike and plot interesting bike routes through Portland, Ore., where Industry is based.
Prototype elements were 3D printed out of plastic to start with.
The Solid combined 3D-printed components like this handlebar grip and brake lever with conventional titanium tubing in some areas, such as the rest of the handlebar. Industry aimed for a sleek design by routing cables inside the frame; the brake cable can be seen entering the handlebar right next to the brake lever mount.
3D printing uses a process called laser sintering to fuse titanium powder into parts. Once the parts are 3D printed, finishing touches like smoothing and polishing are applied.
The Industry Solid has mounting points to attach a custom rack.
Despite the aid of 3D printing, the finishing process took a lot of manual labor.
The finishing process changes the dimensions of the 3D-printed parts, one aspect of the manufacturing process Industry wanted to study.
The Solid has its own GPS electronics for navigation and stolen bike recovery, as well as a small Arduino-based computer. The computer sends buzzing signals to one handlebar or the other when it's time for a rider to make a turn in that direction. The buzzes get more insistent as the turn approaches.
Industry wanted to study new high-tech areas of design, but it also used traditional paper sketches and printouts to sift through design options.
Industry considered a range of bicycle frame options for the Solid bike.
3D printing can't yet make a whole bike frame. Industry relied on a partner, Ti Cycles, to weld components together and stress-test the result.
The Solid bike has a clean look because gearshift and brake cables are routed inside the frame.
The Solid uses a Shimano Alfine Di2 11-speed rear hub and a Gates carbon belt drive.
The Industry Solid includes a built-in, dynamo-powered headlight so riders don't have to mess with batteries.
A smartphone app is designed to get people to explore sights in Portland, Ore., by bicycle.