Amazing new carbon-tubed frame with 3D printed steel lugs + video

Remember that 'printed' nylon bike from the Bristol Aerospace Innovation Centre last year?

by nick_rearden   January 4, 2012  


A German outfit called Vorvaertz has made a fascinating track frame using carbon tubes and intricate stainless steel lugs made by the 3D 'printing' technique.

Most recently featured the Bristol Aerospace Innovation Centre who demonstrated the modern engineering method of building parts layer-by-layer - in effect 3D printing - by making an all-nylon bicycle claimed to be as strong as steel.

What is interesting is that Vorwaertz appear to be using that very material - steel or CL 20ES stainless steel to be precise - in powdered form along with a laser to fuse complicated shapes in this case frame lugs which are then bonded onto mitred carbon tubes in a technique that will be otherwise familiar to followers of carbon framebuilding. There is an excellent video below showing what an interesting combination of cutting-edge technology and Ye Olde World skills this Vorwaertz VWRZ 1.1 really is.

Although it will inevitably lead to cries of "What's the point if Parlee, Colnago, Viner and others can do this with carbon already and probably - certainly - lighter?" we applaud this pushing of the engineering boundaries.

As ever, you have to wonder where it will all lead and if nothing else it's a super light alternative method of doing what the legendary framebuilders like Bill Hurlow were doing for Condor in the late 1940s period. And you don't need to learn how to braze which is a fiendishly difficult skill to master.


22 user comments

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It looks nice enough, but how does the 3d printed parts hold up against normal lugs?

I've been following 3d printing for a while, even chipped in some money on a kickstater campaign (the american version of people fund it) for 3d printer company to get started

If this kind of work does prove to hold up, i'd love to print my own bike to the spec and design i wanted Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8935 posts]
4th January 2012 - 13:58


interesting but I prefer to see a little less daylight through my fork crown.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [859 posts]
4th January 2012 - 14:05


There's a bit of discussion about this over at Prolly, might be worth checking out for those questioning the process -

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
4th January 2012 - 14:26


It is beautiful in its siplicity and proves a nice point.

A shame these 3D sintered lugs require so much fettling - keeps it a low volume process for now at least..

Is the bike just a show piece? Nobody seemed to dare ride it!

posted by jonny8oy [17 posts]
4th January 2012 - 14:33


Are those 26 inch wheels?

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1730 posts]
4th January 2012 - 15:07


It would take a great leap of faith for me to trust those fragile looking dropouts and fork crown.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [963 posts]
4th January 2012 - 16:05

1 Like

Looks like a spider has attacked the bike - and what about the cleaning? Definitely different though!

Chris D

posted by wingsofspeed68 [51 posts]
4th January 2012 - 16:06


Raleigh wrote:
Are those 26 inch wheels?

Don't think so - it looks 'in proportion' for standard 700c wheels...

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
4th January 2012 - 16:11


Does make me wonder how much more excess there is on a frame. Looks really pretty though... NO ONE TELL THE HIPSTERS!

Life behind bars.

Graham Howell's picture

posted by Graham Howell [55 posts]
4th January 2012 - 19:05


I would be concerned about the lack of bonding area between the carbon and the lugs. Otherwise, it looks awesome

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [298 posts]
4th January 2012 - 21:55


pretty yes, intriguing yes ... right royal p.i.t.a. to clean Big Grin

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [726 posts]
4th January 2012 - 21:57


Really like the idea of new thinking to materials and production technologies. Unproven from a long term durability perspective, but definitely a good showcase of what is possible. For instance, tailor made frames produced really quickly at 'off the peg' prices perhaps?

Personally I think the lugs are hideous, but it certainly has got people talking about the bike, which is great from a marketing point of view for Vorvaertz. I doubt if we will be seeing cheap 3d printers in the shops anytime soon! Smile

posted by Mooman16 [33 posts]
5th January 2012 - 17:40


The lugs look interesting, but wrong. As a hairy old aero-engineer trained in the days of mechanical adding machines, I'd expect all the spider web elements to be designed to intersect at a series of points but several of those shown are a bit offset. I think the design relies on a computer-generated finite element model rather than 'real' engineers' input. So while the computer may show the lugs are OK for strength, it means there's some scope for weight reduction. It's only right if it looks right.


posted by Chris S [44 posts]
6th January 2012 - 19:35


I've used various 3D printers every day for 10 years now and we're at the point where rapid prototyping has become rapid manufacturing and printed parts become the actual production item. Shame they are so lug ugly and I'm wondering why they chose stainless over titanium.

posted by Chrisc [143 posts]
6th January 2012 - 19:59

1 Like


posted by Chrisc [143 posts]
6th January 2012 - 20:10


Looks like a wicker basket... technology fit for granny's handlebars only

posted by fatty [74 posts]
6th January 2012 - 20:32


I think this is amazing for several reasons....

One is that it enables replacement parts for older bikes where parts are hard to find or no longer being made. Engineers can use computers to scan and digitally "fix" problems before a print off.

We could all have a custom part somewhere on the bike. How about our name inscribed on places?

I should imagine that if the tech takes off then it could save bike companies a small fortune. All they'd have to do is print. Not so much reliance on forging processes and the subsequent work that goes into fiddly detail.

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
7th January 2012 - 12:11


ppf. Wow! Thats what I like about technology!
We can now have custom lugged bikes. The lugs could be coated in a self cleaning material,just like hi rise building windows,Just hose it down after a wet ride!!!


posted by peasantpigfarmer [46 posts]
7th January 2012 - 12:30


looks shite

posted by stephogg [32 posts]
7th January 2012 - 20:36


UGLY UGLY UGLY... and I would struggle to trust a fork crown that looked like an ornament from my granny's sideboard.

Love the technology behind it though.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

Jack Osbourne snr's picture

posted by Jack Osbourne snr [305 posts]
7th January 2012 - 22:10

1 Like

joemmo wrote:
interesting but I prefer to see a little less daylight through my fork crown.

Don't worry, you wouldn't be seeing daylight for long. It'd be nicely filled out with muck in no time flat. I wouldn't want to be squirting water so close to the headset on a regular basis either. Although to be fair the example above is billed as track, not road, bike, so wouldn't get that muddy. But then who wants the Victorian look on their pared down track bike?

Surely another example of bike techno that'll be filed under 'Interesting but impractical', at least in the lacey lugs and crown application.

posted by bikeylikey [168 posts]
8th January 2012 - 9:59


It looks amazing.It will lead, I think, to the time when materials and frame design will be strong enough to make a whole intricate lace frame with lots of daylight showing. That's when we'll have more really interesting bikes with serious wow factor.


posted by tommy2p [84 posts]
11th January 2012 - 13:46