Video: Charge 3D printed titanium dropouts being made
See Charge's dropouts being 3D printed from titanium down the road in Bristol...

road.cc had an exclusive first look the 3D printing process being used by Charge Bikes in this video last summer, and today Charge have edited their own video showing how EADS Innovation Works, the corporate research centre for the EADS group, produce the dropouts from a pile of titanium dust. It's fascinating stuff.

In this video, it's Charge'sNick Larsen, takes us around the facility, and chats to Andy Hawkins from EADS about the process and the benefits over traditional fabrication methods. The dropouts in question are being used in Charge's latest titanium cyclo-cross frame, and because of the high cost of the dropouts it's a very limited run, just 50 being initially produced.

3D printing, or additive layer manufacturing to give it the proper name, starts out with a fine layer of titanium powder, on which a precision laser draws an outline, melting the layer. This process is repeated until a 3D object rises magically from the dust. But better than magic because no smoke and mirrors are involved. Very much the coming thing it is (as Yoda might say) so much so that we've got another 3D bike part printing almost done and dusted and coming your way soon.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.


I love my bike [100 posts] 2 years ago

Hmmm more precisely it's SLS (selective laser sintering).

So they're proud of a copying a bent-tube-with-plate dropout design & adding their logo twice? Did their tube bender break?

The skill is not the process (as anybody can send a STL file to somewhere like Shapeways & receive parts exactly like these) but about the design.

MercuryOne [1234 posts] 2 years ago

Surely it is the process - as you can create multiple designs in one print run without having to set multiple different machining tools in process at the same time to produce them? He mentions it at the beginning.

It is just a tube, but where the design improvements come in is being able to produce tricky shapes that are difficult to consistantly produce with molten metal mould processing or cutting. Did I imagine it or have Campag been producing a derailleur arm with 3D printing to reduce weight that can't be achieved with conventional methods?

It may have all sorts of medical and aerospace uses but in many respects with bicycles it's still a solution looking for a problem.