3D printing in bicycle development

For several years, the design of components using 3D printing has had a permanent place in ROTWILD's engineering. Before a bike is mass-produced from carbon, a large number of 3D-printed parts are created in the development process, starting from the design on the screen to the finished model. Each mold and component is based on its own extensive development and design phase. Using the 3D-printed components, the design can be checked in detail before series production.


Materials and processes used

Many parts from the 3D printer are created in plastic. However, individual structural components can also be produced from aluminum or steel using the metal printing process.

In both plastic and metal printing, the component is built directly from the 3D CAD data. In contrast to machining processes, in which the desired shape is milled out of a metal block, the component grows layer by layer. The starting material is a metal powder that is melted by a high-energy laser beam with high energy density. The result is a component whose density approximates that of the base material and thus also its mechanical properties.


Advantages of 3D printing

As an efficient and fast tool, 3D printing not only helps to check individual design steps in the development process. It also saves development costs, because the time-consuming programming of CNC machines and the construction of molds and tools are no longer necessary. In addition, 3D printing can also be used to implement complex structures quickly and with little material.

Complementing the design on the computer, 3D printing can be used to analyze dimensions, installation spaces and potential design problems even before the frame is built in a time-consuming and cost-intensive mold. Necessary changes are thus identified at an early stage and the design can be adapted accordingly.

The metal printing process also offers the great advantage that the components can be used as load-bearing parts in road tests as early as the prototype phase. This means that 3D printing technology can significantly shorten the production time for roadworthy prototypes. This gives our product developers more time before series production to extensively test and optimize new bike concepts. In this way, real innovations can bring tangible improvements in bike performance.

In this article we explain how 3D metal printing was used in the development of the R.X375 and R.E375 prototypes.



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