Engineers in the UK have designed a new manufacturing process using powdered materials, using it to "grow" a weird ivory-colored bicycle made of nylon. They say it is as strong as steel. The designers hope the growth process, a type of 3-D laser printing, could revolutionize manufacturing, according to the BBC.
The process is called Additive Layer Manufacturing, and it works somewhat like a 3-D printer. Guided by a computer-aided design program, a laser fuses together several layers of finely powdered metal, nylon or plastic. The laser melts the powder, which solidifies according to a chosen pattern. Then more powder is added, melting and solidifying to add layer upon layer until the object is fully formed.
The laser can draw any shape a designer might want, according to EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.
The process makes objects that are 65 percent lighter than traditionally machined objects, and uses about one-tenth the materials, according to Eureka Magazine. EADS, the parent of plane-maker Airbus, could use the process to make lighter airplanes.
EADS engineers wanted to demonstrate that the process could make just about anything, not just brackets and other unexciting materials, so they built a bike. Dubbed "Airbike," it's lightweight but strong, qualities you would want in an aircraft or a satellite. It actually consists of six separately printed pieces, including moving parts in the wheels.
This will be featured in the next SAW movie.
Amazing! I wonder how many steps we are from the ST:TNG energy to matter converters?Of course, first we have to find an unlimited energy source.
So...they melted some nylon into something that kind of resembles a bicycle, though I prefer my bikes to be rideable and not quite so preskool looking.
I thought the whole 3d printing thing was old news by now.
I mean popular mechanics only had an article with Jay Leno talking about making intricate parts with movable inner pieces on his 3d printer; two years ago.
The article showed how mainstream and affordable 3d printing and scanning were becoming, they are undoubtedly more-so now.
So please, someone, somewhere, print up something that at least looks usable.
Oh, and if your going to claim that your printed nylon is "strong as steel" PROVE IT!
DWH- you beat me to it sir! Can't wait for the day these things are commercially viable and everyone has one in their living rooms!
@boldsword, I somewhat agree with you, but keep in mind that 3D printing is still primarily a method of rapid prototyping. So it makes sense that We're seeing a lot of "new looking" stuff rolling out of them.
But it's also true that 3D printing could revolutionize manufacture on existing production lines. For example, is it faster, more efficient, or less wasteful to print a Transformers toy than to manufacture it in a traditional manner? (Probably not, but there must be some product that's just made for this technology) Get a critical mass of 3D manufacturing and the costs will come down more, increasing the number of products using the technology, bringing the costs down, etc.
Then 3D printers will start to come for a 100 bucks with a laptop purchase...
As strong as steel, but not as durable.. Which is the utter downfall of nearly all alternatives to steel. That bike would wear in two within only a couple of years worth of use.
"65 percent lighter than traditionally machined objects, and uses about one-tenth the materials"
How does THAT work?
If I have 10 pounds of steel that I typically use to make a bike, if I use 1/10th of that material... wouldn't the bike weigh 1 pound instead of 6.5 pounds?
How do you get 10% of the material to weigh 65% of the total material weight?
This technology will definitely be industrialized. With the waste material coming drastically down -uses about one-tenth the materials- it will be the next thing environmental lovers will cheer.
The possibility of developing A 3-d printer from an existing 3-d printer can also be fun to look at
Making your custom bike , car and other products will introduce a new paradigm in customer satisfaction and testing new designs will no longer be expensive.
lets see what happens!
I imagine myself sitting in a custom chair designed for my comfort and designing a new product on my ultra stylish and feather light laptop