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I just read an in-depth article in this week's issue of The Economist mag about progress in the development of 3-D printers for industrial applications. Apparently, it's possible to replicate a playable pseudo-replica of a Stradovarius violin, for instance. The article also mention that computer-driven design fed into a 3-D printer can replicate things in metals such as aluminum, too. I'm assuming that manufacturing stuff in CF would be possible as well.

Anyone else hear anything about these industrail-strength 3-D printers? It seems like a cool concept. I don't have a background in machining, metallurgy (sp.?), CAD, or manufacturing in general. So my question is this to those that know about this type of stuff: Are we on the verge of a new era in the manufacture of mtbs that could produce decent mtbs faster and more inexpensively than ever before? If so, this could be a big deal for our sport. Or are the stresses that a decent ride potentially undergoes on the trail too much for this type of manufacture?
 

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roxnroots said:
I just read an in-depth article in this week's issue of The Economist mag about progress in the development of 3-D printers for industrial applications. Apparently, it's possible to replicate a playable pseudo-replica of a Stradovarius violin, for instance. The article also mention that computer-driven design fed into a 3-D printer can replicate things in metals such as aluminum, too. I'm assuming that manufacturing stuff in CF would be possible as well.

Anyone else hear anything about these industrail-strength 3-D printers? It seems like a cool concept. I don't have a background in machining, metallurgy (sp.?), CAD, or manufacturing in general. So my question is this to those that know about this type of stuff: Are we on the verge of a new era in the manufacture of mtbs that could produce decent mtbs faster and more inexpensively than ever before? If so, this could be a big deal for our sport. Or are the stresses that a decent ride potentially undergoes on the trail too much for this type of manufacture?
I have only seen the 3-D printers that produce plastic parts.

They all are basically inkjet printers that build up layers to make the part. Great for prototyping fit and shape. Not so much for strength.

A functional carbon fiber part in not going to happen via this method.
 

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3-d printers have been garnering a lot of attn the past year or so. It's one of those things that seem some like science fiction technology, but fairly easy and affordable to implement.

I don't think there are any limits in the industries that could benefit (even foodies are starting to "print" meals >:-| ). I don't know if there's much of an application for metal bikes, but I could possibly see CF bikes being printed. If you could print the appropriate structure at the stress points, it could negate the necessity of gluing a frame together. I'm not sure what the benefit might be, though - economics/style, etc.
 

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This Commencal Prototype was made using the exact method you're thinking of, however, it's plastic (Proto-prototype?). The working ones and the production model are still Aluminium.

Rapid prototyping is great for relatively cheap and fast testing of your CAD designs. It doesn't give you a finished product though. For mass production of plastics moulds are a much better method, but making a new mould for every iteration of a prototype gets old very fast.
 

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GotoDengo said:
3-d printers have been garnering a lot of attn the past year or so. It's one of those things that seem some like science fiction technology, but fairly easy and affordable to implement.

I don't think there are any limits in the industries that could benefit (even foodies are starting to "print" meals >:-| ). I don't know if there's much of an application for metal bikes, but I could possibly see CF bikes being printed. If you could print the appropriate structure at the stress points, it could negate the necessity of gluing a frame together. I'm not sure what the benefit might be, though - economics/style, etc.
There is no way the carbon FIBER is going to be "printed". The strand orientation lay up is a hand process and can not be reproduced with liquid media.
 

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Well, I just skimmed the article ( http://www.economist.com/node/18114221?story_id=18114221&CFID=162298921&CFTOKEN=22968425 ) and they have been making advances in the method, especially in using powdered metals (titanium). Could result id some cool parts. Bat as with everything else, the designers/engineers need to match the design to the material/process rather than trying to use existing designs and materials with it (such as carbon fiber).
 
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