Take 500 new products, a panel of six expert judges, and two days of intensive debate and what do you get? Twelve golden stickers, otherwise known as the Eurobike Gold Awards.
One entry that captured the panel’s imagination is the Aenimal Bhulk, a mountain bike frame manufactured using 3D printing. What’s more, the biopolymer PLA filament is made from sustainable resources.
Explaining their decision, the jury said:
“The Aenimal Bhulk could start a new trend. It’s the first mountain bike where a 3D printer is used to make the frame from biodegradable, recyclable and recycled materials. We’re presenting this innovation with an award because its technology is so visionary that it could revolutionise the way bikes are customised and manufactured.”
The proud winners of the award are Eurocomposti, a design studio based in Padua, Italy. Their stated goal with the Aenimal project was to make an ecological and environmentally sustainable bike. The 3D printing process involved fused filament deposition by a special CNC machine, able to make very complex objects without shape limits that are typical of the standard moulding process. The raw material was biodegradable, recycled PLA filament (which is also recyclable).
On the Eurobike Awards page, the studio described the process further:
“A feasibility analysis was conducted to determine the most correct printing processes and printing materials. R&D was fundamental to design the right tube shapes and dimensions in order to obtain stiffness and durability. The cost for the PLA material we are using is €16/kg (5 kilos are currently being used).”
Currently, the 3d printed mountain bike frame is only in the prototyping phase, with no plans for consumer production. But it’s certainly an excellent proof of concept, demonstrating how — with the right approach — even a weak material like PLA can be worked into something strong and sturdy.
Source: All3DP, 2015-09-02.
Author: Bulent Yusuf