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

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 road.cc 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.

Details: vorwaertz.com

22 comments

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 4 years ago
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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  4

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joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
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interesting but I prefer to see a little less daylight through my fork crown.

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JonMack [167 posts] 4 years ago
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There's a bit of discussion about this over at Prolly, might be worth checking out for those questioning the process - http://prollyisnotprobably.com/2012/01/vrz_1.php#disqus_thread

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jonny8oy [17 posts] 4 years ago
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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!

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Raleigh [1665 posts] 4 years ago
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Are those 26 inch wheels?

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antonio [1126 posts] 4 years ago
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It would take a great leap of faith for me to trust those fragile looking dropouts and fork crown.

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wingsofspeed68 [63 posts] 4 years ago
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Looks like a spider has attacked the bike - and what about the cleaning? Definitely different though!

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nick_rearden [436 posts] 4 years ago
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Raleigh wrote:

Are those 26 inch wheels?

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

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Graham Howell [49 posts] 4 years ago
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Does make me wonder how much more excess there is on a frame. Looks really pretty though... NO ONE TELL THE HIPSTERS!

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mr-andrew [300 posts] 4 years ago
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I would be concerned about the lack of bonding area between the carbon and the lugs. Otherwise, it looks awesome

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therevokid [948 posts] 4 years ago
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pretty yes, intriguing yes ... right royal p.i.t.a. to clean  4

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Mooman16 [25 posts] 4 years ago
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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!  1

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Chris S [44 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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Chrisc [147 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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Chrisc [147 posts] 4 years ago
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Oops

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fatty [77 posts] 4 years ago
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Looks like a wicker basket... technology fit for granny's handlebars only

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downfader [203 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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peasantpigfarmer [46 posts] 4 years ago
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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!!!

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stephogg [43 posts] 4 years ago
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looks shite

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Jack Osbourne snr [447 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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bikeylikey [206 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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tommy2p [89 posts] 4 years ago
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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.