Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti

Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has been around since the 80s, although those first ‘printers’ were expensive and cumbersome. They are more readily available these days, so the process is subsequently cheaper and more accessible. The West Australian bike studio, Flying Machine, have worked with the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation to develop a bike built with this amazing technology.

Th CSIRO’s Arcam printer created the lugs which were then bonded to 3Al-2.5V titanium tubing. The lugs are produced in Melbourne, while the frame is assembled in the FM studio in Perth, so it’s a 100% Australian made-machine. This process allows for completely custom geometry in a lugged titanium frame — and can be completed within three weeks. For the full story, head to the Flying Machine website. Special thanks to Thom Perry for the photography.

Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti
Flying Machine 3D Printed Ti

  • PixelPlowPusher

    It’s Happening!

  • supermundane

    Interesting use of the technology and I’m sure it has a place but once you have a mould then casting lugs is a far quicker process than sintering metal (just as injection moulding of plastic is far quicker than 3D printing) so the whole thing strikes me as somewhat gimmicky. I could however see the value of 3D printing to create the moulds for the lugs. There also looks as though those lugs would need a fair bit of cleaning up. Cast lugs would require far less.

    Last, I’m skeptical about the use of an epoxy to adhere the frame parts. I doubt that the longevity of a welded frame is there in this. All in all other than having lugs on a titanium frame, I don’t see the point and when it comes to a steel frame, casts are quicker and cleaner.

    • supermundane

      I doubt that the longevity of a this frame is as good as a welded frame…that ought to have been.

    • Matt An

      You can’t change a mould once you have made it, 3D printed parts can be made differently every time with no effect on production time or cost. This is the whole point of 3D Printing, its highly variable where as moulds are static. Custom bike frames need to be highly variable to produce tailored geometry.

      Structural bonding/ aerospace adhesives are used widely in many industries in place of welding, notably as the name implies Aerospace, the wings of the forces here are a little stronger than those in a bike frame and the results of failure far more catastrophic…

      • supermundane

        Customisation of geometry is already available through welding from any frame-builder working in titanium. The only advantage I see here is if someone seeks the look of lugs with a titanium frame on a fully customisable frame. Also the turn-around time for this frame with its printed lugs appears on the information provided in the article appears to be considerably slower than a TIG welded frame (one to two days) given too, the cleaning up that those lugs would require in addition to the printing. So no advantage there.

        Thesr days, the range of lugs for steel frames is limited so the 3D printing of reusable moulds for a broader range of lugs on a steel bike has merit and really it’d be possible to service most tailored geometries with a good set of lugs covering a range of angles. I could see the companies and individuals fabricating lugs using 3D printing to offer a far wider range of cast lugs than is currently available.

        Finally, as good as the epoxy is, I don’t see how it could beat the strength of fusing the base metals in TIG welding.

        Again, nice bike and nice concept but ultimately a gimmick.

        • kiefr

          All new technology appears “gimmicky” in the beginning but technology does not improve or advance without risk. This frame shows new technology which may ultimately evolve into something stronger, more refined and more accessible for the everyday rider. Look at carbon fibre, I bet the first components were “gimmicky” and I bet many riders didn’t trust the strength or durability of the material…but look at it now.
          Nothing changes if nothing changes.

          • supermundane

            I’m not doubting the technology. I think 3D printing has it’s place although I also believe there’s a good deal of hype surrounding it. I don’t for example foresee a printer in every house (to what end?) as propagated by the advocates. I can foresee the 3D printing version of Kinko’s emerging.

            The thing is, it has its niche particularly for one-off parts and for prototyping. Other forms of fabrication. It would make no sense to supplant injection moulding as I mentioned in plastics for mass-production for example.

            3D printing is a ‘buzz-word’ and in that sense it’s a gimmick. The utility really isn’t there in this case unless you’re seeking a lugged, titanium framed bike (a tiny section of the market I could think). Customisation has long been possible in titanium with TIG welding.

            ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes.’

            A valueless tautology. Change in of itself (change for the sake of change) is neither good nor bad.

        • S. Stickman

          I think you’re still missing many of the main fundamentals and the positive attitributes of this bike. For starters, any good custom frame builder is usually going to have a back order of bicycles and can only essentially have ‘one bike in the jig’ at a time. So already the process is sped up as the pieces can be simply plugged into each other.

          Also It’s extremely labour intensive to get a weld as smooth as a computer driven radius on a joint especially when your dealing with something like Ti. Aswell as factoring in the frame builders experience in doing it. There’s always human error involved with handmade but you can’t exactly fault a computers precise wall thicknesses.

          I think it’s an awesome concept, that’s perhaps a stepping stone into a lot of amazing possibilities.
          I want to see more.

          • Albie Ish

            One does not simply “plug in” a tube to a lug and go. You still have to miter the tube to the desired angle if you want any semblance of strength. More so, many points you make regarding fixturing are production sound like they’re coming from somebody who has never built a bicycle frame.

            Go do some research on bicycle manufacturing and then come back to this conversation.

          • S. Stickman

            Just to clarify for your sake only, I was simplifying the process down to ‘the basic idea’ of the concept. Sorry to confuse you there.

            Also, none of the tubes on this frame have been mitered. Perhaps its research time for you 😉

  • Albie Ish

    That brake lever routing is killing me.

  • itsmefool

    Love it! Topcoat, lugs and overall stance and geometry just rock…well done!

  • Guest

    Psssst. Brake caliper release open.

  • I have built frames before does this make me qualified to comment?

  • geoff Duke

    As a framebuilder of lugged steel frames and a toolmaker by trade I am not going to comment on the merits of other methods of manufacture. I do have to ask though,why is there so much emphasis put on the turnaround time. If you want a bike that quickly then there are plenty available straight of the rack. In 90% of cases in today’s market they will fit you If you want something a little bit different (for any number of reasons) then surely waiting for the builder to fit you in, is part of the process. You don’t expect a house builder to knock up your new extension overnight and you don’t ask your Ferrari mechanic for same day service. Why is having a custom built frame built any different

    • supermundane

      As someone who has built two lugged and one fillet-brazed frame (3 frames doesn’t make me a frame builder – just someone who has built three frames) I agree with you. The focus on the turnaround time is somewhat wrong-headed of the reasons you cite.

      I will comment on the building process however. Full customisation of frame geometry with TIG welded titanium or lugless fabrication of steel (TIG and fillet-brazed) has long been possible so the advantage with this process is really only apparent if the customer desires a lugged, titanium frame. As I said before, a tiny subset of the market. Most sales will no stem from the novelty (owning a bike with 3D printed components) as the selling point is fully customisable titanium frames is hardly that.

      Also I really don’t see how an epoxy will give as strong a bond as fusing the base-metals through TIG welding. I would be highly skeptical about the long-term durability of these frames.