We’ve seen 3D printed bikes before. Normally they’re badass. Normally, they look pretty much just like every other bike. The Arc Bicycle though, featuring a 3D-printed steel frame, is anything but normal.
Created by a team of five students at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, the Arc features an entire bicycle frame that was printed with steel, a world first, and what’s more – they’ve used an open mesh frame rather than traditional tubes.
Every wire of the steel frame was built up one millimetre at a time by a robot, which welded each tiny piece of steel on to each wire until the final frame was complete. It only took 100 hours. Lucky the robot didn’t have any pre-arranged dinner plans.
Now, the bike isn’t the easiest on the eyes. If we’re being honest, it looks a little like someone has cut up an old fisherman’s net, spray painted it silver and laid it next to some bike parts. But the mechanical work and innovative nature of the bike truly is stunning.
There are no lugs or jigs, and it was barely even touched by human hands at all until it came to fitting the parts – and testing it out.
The students behind the project said: “We tested out the bicycle on the streets and it performed well. It offers quite a smooth ride.
“It weighs slightly more than a normal steel bicycle, yet less than 20kg. Our main concern when designing the frame was strength. We didn’t know how the material would behave so we chose to make it extra strong and sacrifice a bit of weight.
“Our frame proves it’s possible to produce a bicycle frame in this way. That was our goal."
The project to create the bike came as part of a three-month period demonstrating the versatility and opportunities of the manufacturing method Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing/WAAM.
“It was important for us to design a functional object that people use every day," concluded the team. “Being students in the Netherlands, a bicycle naturally came to mind. A bicycle frame is a good test for the technology because of the complex forces involved."