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EADS Bicycle Made of Steel-Strength Nylon

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the nylon-worthy-of-fetish dept.

Transportation 95

Zothecula writes "Engineers from the Bristol wing of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) have announced the development of the first bicycle using Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technology. The manufacturing process involves 'growing' the components from a fine nylon powder, similar in concept to 3D printing. Said to be as strong as steel, the end product is claimed to contain only a fraction of the source material used by traditional machining, and the process results in much less waste. It also has the potential to take manufacture to precisely where the component or product is needed, instead of being confined to factories often located a great distance away."

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Video demonstration (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446670)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12664422

Re:Video demonstration (2)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446854)

Very interesting, but this kind of manufacturing is still incredibly slow and expensive. This is still proof of concept for consumer items, except for things like costly custom World of Warcraft figures. Several hours of machine time per part is expected, probably overnight for many of them. If you need to charge $1 to $2 a minute on the machine, you can tell costs can add up very quickly. Injection molded parts can be made in seconds, large one half a minute per cycle, Where it is useful is if rapid prototyping or if you only need a few very specific parts made, this process negates the need for an expensive injection mold isn't needed, saving tens of thousands of dollars per mold, and you can get parts made next day rather than waiting four months for the mold to be finished.

Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (3, Insightful)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447612)

"this kind of manufacturing is still incredibly slow and expensive. This is still proof of concept for consumer items"

Spoken like a non-cyclist. The most lucrative market in bicycles isn't cheap commodity bikes like Schwinns, it's in lightweight road enthusiast and racing bikes. Price isn't the determining factor, which is why bicycle companies can charge thousands for carbon fiber frames [trekbikes.com] .

Besides, if adopted, economy of scale would drop price dramatically. Prototypes are always more expensive than real-world products. CINC machines used to cost millions. Now I know a guy with one in his home's garage - he machines custom CAD-designed copper evaporator heads for phase-change computer cooling units.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

svirre (39068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448220)

"The most lucrative market in bicycles isn't cheap commodity bikes like Schwinns"
Do you have references for this. In most markets it is the low end that contributes the most to the bottom line simply because the volumes are magnitudes higher than the high-end.

"Besides, if adopted, economy of scale would drop price dramatically"
Of course, economies of scale will in practical terms mean replacing the printed parts with injection molded parts. Economies of scale isn't magic. In practical terms it means you can afford to pay larger up-front costs to get to more rational manufacturing. Consider SRAMs XX casette. This part is milled through a time consuming process while other casettes are stamped. SRAM will not be able to simply push a button to manufacture more XX casettes and then get them cheaper, it is the more rational manufacturing that leads to economies of scale, not the other way around.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448296)

That's a fairly outrageous claim. If you're changing an integral part of the product, then what you're doing isn't scaling the economy of manufacturing, but rather manufacturing a different product. Economy of scale isn't magic, no. It's being able to move quantities sufficient to negotiate with suppliers for better volume deals, and being able to make large capital expenditures that lower manufacturing costs.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448336)

Wait a minute, you know about how the real world functions and you used logic to counter a ridiculous post? Is this still Slashdot? I was expecting the next post to be about making space elevators with this... Can I count on you to counter the ridiculous Space Nutter logic too?

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448760)

"Do you have references for this. In most markets it is the low end that contributes the most to the bottom line simply because the volumes are magnitudes higher than the high-end."

Well, in the US, Trek dominates, and Schwinn was sold at bankruptcy auction. Obviously, in developing countries, they want cheap-ass commodity bikes.

"Of course, economies of scale will in practical terms mean replacing the printed parts with injection molded parts. Economies of scale isn't magic"


I never suggested magic. Prices of manufacturing equipment drop with scale (and time) as well. Scanners used to be $2000. Now they are like $75. As I said, CINC machines now can be bought by hobbyists.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449696)

This still isn't a valid reference for what end of the bicycle market makes most of the profits. Schwinn might have been sold, but there are a slew of additional low budget names to fill the void. A more correct original statement is that light weight road enthusiast and racing bikes don't need to be cheap because some fool will spend countless thousands on them. Also they can take a bath on racing bike prices to get advertising for the brand by having someone race with their products.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35450064)

Look, you're both way off. Those all may contribute, but the largest issue with economies of scale is the initial investment in setting up a factory which can produce volume. Every-time you have have to "tear down" your production line, you face the daunting task of recovering the time & labor of tearing down the current, and setting up the next setup. (Congress is notorious for this shit, and the F-22 better stay canceled because you'll see 6 months to a year of waste in getting that project rolling again if they change their minds)

You have less shipping and handling, less sitting on hands waiting for orders, cheaper bulk components, etc. The monthly cost of operations are fairly fixed which means that by keeping yourself running at capacity, you have more parts to spread your costs and profits over.

When you have sufficient demand to "push" a large volume of product and not have any capital tied up in excess inventory, you don't have to resort to the labor and time intensive "one part pull" systems that are so fashionable in modern large machine shops.

I'm a machinist and there's nothing that irritates me more than being told to make 5 of something, and being told "no" when I ask if they would like extras. Only to turn around and have to put twice the effort in to making 10 as it took me to make 5, as opposed to investing negligible time and materials expenses in doubling their order on my first setup.

You get a feel for a customer's credibility pretty rapidly and know who is going to change their mind or make revisions to the print at the last minute. The ones who want more get a large volume run for the price of three small volume runs, and the ones who want to change the part get longer lead times so they can make up their damn minds before I start making something they don't want to pay for.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451276)

Economies of scale will apply *to the printer itself*. That's the interesting part.

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35477278)

Do you have references for this. In most markets it is the low end that contributes the most to the bottom line simply because the volumes are magnitudes higher than the high-end.
Yes I do, in telecom (my area) over 70% of the profitability comes from the top 10% customers. Most people have not done their numbers properly and are still blinded by subs numbers. I do not know about other areas, but the numbers I have are real, coming from LatAm, Africa and AfPak.
I post anonymous so my clients will not complain :)

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449756)

Now I know a guy with one in his home's garage - he machines custom CAD-designed copper evaporator heads for phase-change computer cooling units.

What you know is a guy who makes evaporator heads for ethanol stills I bet ;)

Re:Price isn't prohibitive to serious riders (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450802)

"this kind of manufacturing is still incredibly slow and expensive. This is still proof of concept for consumer items" .

Spoken like a non-cyclist

Dunno. This just looks like a different way to make a sloppy plastic frame. I can't imagine anybody riding 100km on the bike in the article.

Re:Video demonstration (sound?) (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447370)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12664422

Did that horrible sound at the end of the video come from the bike?

Amnion (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446674)

The Amnion taught them how to do it.

Looks more like a toy (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446708)

The concept sounds cool until you click the link and see the picture. What a letdown. That rubber band for a bike chain is dishearting.
If there is real advantage in using this technology like this, they should build mutiple parts and assamble a real bike.

Re:Looks more like a toy (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446744)

The concept sounds cool until you click the link and see the picture. What a letdown.

Dude, it's kevlar. What's wrong with kevlar?

Re:Looks more like a toy (2)

Omega2 (155298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446748)

It's a kevlar belt, they use them real bicycles as well. Even Trek makes a couple.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451730)

Doesn't kevlar degrade in UV light?

Re:Looks more like a toy (4, Informative)

ganktor (1448127) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446768)

If you had ever ridden a bike with a belt vs a chain, you wouldn't have even commented. They're awesome. So smooth and quiet.

Re:Looks more like a toy (2)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447098)

I've ridden motorcycles with chain drive, belt drive, and shaft drive, and agree with you entirely -- chains suck compared to the others (but shaft is still better, with zero maintenance after 100K miles). Apparently there are also bicycles with shaft drive, [google.com] but I've never seen one.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447208)

Chains are slightly more efficient than shafts, which makes a big difference for bicycles (rather than motorcycles, where small inefficiencies are negligible). Also, shafts are incompatible with derailleur systems. Now that there are nicer internal shifting hubs for bicycles, expect to see a lot more shaft- and belt-driven bikes around; the only major downside is the weight, which is why you'll see them on mostly commuter/hybrid-style bikes.

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

dashZD (981653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448302)

"Chains are slightly more efficient than shafts, which makes a big difference for bicycles (rather than motorcycles, where small inefficiencies are negligible)." Spot on with the bicycle side...but way off on the motorcycle side. If you think small efficiencies are not valued in motorcycles, you haven't been watching the evolution of sportbikes for the past, ahh, 20 years.

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449098)

...which may be a concern for a racing sport bike, but isn't really the case for a lot of motorbikes on the road - hence why you see shaft driven motorcycles but not bicycles. So yes, for most applications, the small inefficiencies of using a shaft are negligible. Most chain driven bikes on the road are that way due to cost - with exceptions for some specific markets (sport bikes, off road, etc).

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448380)

I have a pretty fancy All-Mountain bike and an internal shifting hub worth actually owning costs more than the whole bike. There's only one that doesn't disintegrate under actual use and it's like three grand.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449188)

Eh -- you can get a Rohloff for closer to $2k if you look around hard enough.

Also, Shimano's Alfine 11 might (might!) prove a worthy competitor at a much lower cost. It'll be interesting to see.

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449414)

I don't have much faith left in Shimano, but I'll keep my eyes peeled and I'll be breathing heavy, or something.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449092)

I had a shaft-drive bike, and changing a flat on the rear was a messy pain. Belts (my wife has one [flickr.com] ) are also trickier than chains (need to break the rear triangle, not compatible with quick-release), but not quite as much so.

My next bike [bikefriday.com] will have a belt drive -- largely because I'm riding folders these days, and not having all the grease floating around is a huge advantage when you make a habit of bringing your bike inside, throwing it into onto leather car seats, etc.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35450912)

Shaft drive shifts the centre of balance to one side of the bike. You either compensate for it with your riding style, or you add a counterweight which increases the weight of the back end.
 
I'm not knocking it, I think shaft drive is great. I'm just stating fact.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451690)

I looked into shaft drives the last time I was buying a bike, but I got an internal hub system with a standard chain instead because I suspect that they don't wear well. A chain/belt absorbs impact as you cycle - with a shaft I would imagine that the gears take more of a hammering. (No actual evidence of this - just looking at the designs and speculating.)

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446954)

Only on Slashdot will you find shutins who have never rode a modern bicycle before.

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447044)

You have hated it when they added starters to automobile engines.

Re:Looks more like a toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448272)

You have hated it when they added starters to automobile engines.

As someone with a Model T. I will gladly take your modern starters any day of the week.

Re:Looks more like a toy (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447794)

next time you're out, lift the bonnet/hood of your car and look at the various belts that drive the water pump, alternator etc. I had a belt driven proflex mountain bike once that used the belt from an MGF sports car. It would way outlast a chain - but it does have it's problems. They are not so good in wet muddy conditions and need to be under quite a lot of tension (compared to chain) and that's why they haven't really taken off on bikes.

Not as strong as steel! (5, Informative)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446736)

Hi [redacted],

Can you please send me an email to my work address: [redacted]. I have a number of attachments that you would probably appreciate. Just as an FYI, the bike is purely a demonstration of what you can do with 3D printing, which we call Additive Layer Manufacturing. The bike is 100% nylon plastic which (as opposed to what has been claimed by some news outlets) is strong enough to make a bike, but not as strong as steel! Obviously. The point is that with 3D printing you have almost complete design freedom in manufacturing (unrestricted by machining tools and by the high cost of tooling up in casting). In fact customisation would not add any (or very little) cost to manufactutring. Here is a link to our website & release: http://www.eads.com/eads/int/en/news/press.8d764849-d439-475b-93b3-3cc9a7d2ba20.70472f39-dd6f-4428-a792-91d82cb9791b.html [eads.com]
Hope this helps...
Al

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446896)

Indeed, if you read the press release, the only significant mention of steel is that this new method allows for them to replace steel or aluminum components in the bike with nylon, but it doesn't make any statement regarding the relative strengths of the materials. In other words, it's strong enough for bikes (which allows you to allocate steel to other uses, instead of bikes), but not necessarily as strong as steel.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447210)

Why would I allocate steel to other uses?

Nylon is made of oil, which is running out. Steel is made of iron, which will never run out.

Find me a way to start making plastic things out of steel. Then you'll have the future in your hands.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447380)

Nylon is made of oil, which is running out. Steel is made of iron, which will never run out.

Nylon is thermoplastic. You can make nylon stuff out of old nylon stuff.

The melting point of nylon is about 220-265 C, depending on the type, while steel melts around 1425 - 1540 C. Seems like it's much easier to recycle nylon than steel.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457746)

Iron's not quite as abundant as you think; it's actually less abundant than aluminum. Sure, the core is full of the stuff, but we can't get to the core. Back before WWII, Imperial Japan was very interested in acquiring as much iron as possible for their war machine, and had to import it from other countries, IIRC. It's not like silicon, which is literally lying on beaches around the world. More importantly, creating steel from iron ore is a very energy-intensive process, which is why scrap iron and scrap steel is valuable, because it's much cheaper to make new steel by melting down old steel than digging up iron ore and smelting it.

Nylon, like other plastics, is also recyclable, and requires far less energy to do so.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450242)

Quite frankly, strength is not the major concern with bikes.

Rigidity is the quality that most important. Very rigid bikes are too harsh to ride, very flexible ones are unstable, unresponsive and inefficient.

Achieving a balance is the art in making a true fantastic bike. Rigid side to side for power transfer and more flexible on the z-axis for reasonable comfort is usually the holy grail.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447096)

Thanks for the link!!!

Not only can they do this with nylon, they can do it with TITANIUM! I'm wondering if their layering process is good enough to make bike tubes.

Wow!! This post makes up for months of slashdot sludge!!!

Re:Not as strong as steel! (1)

Laser Dan (707106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451864)

Titanium printing is extremely expensive though.

I designed a ring and had a test print done in plastic, it was around US$25.
I got a quote for the same ring in titanium and it was US$150ish.
The cost for a bicycle frame or anything large is huge, but it is great for small things.

Oh another thing, they can print in wax and do lost-wax castings which might be cheaper.

Re:Not as strong as steel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449118)

Why does this seem like a bad idea, once you look beyond the hype.
They don't make bikes currently out of nylon for good reasons.
"scimitar" spokes? You just created a high stress region where the spokes meet the rim.
Probably other issues but I'm no aerospace engineer.

Why didn't they design an awesome bike? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446778)

To my tired old traditionalist eyes, the bike doesn't look very functional for anything. The seat is up and the handlebars are down. Does that mean it's intended for racing? Probably not. It just looks too uncomfortable for anything else. With its small wheels, it looks like something you would throw in the trunk of your car to take to the park to ride.

So they can build a bike. It would be better if they built an awesome bike that was actually good for something.

Re:Why didn't they design an awesome bike? (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446918)

My commuter bike is configured this way. It has nothing to do with racing, and everything to do with efficiency.

Still, for a "cruiser" bike, you simply make the stem shorter. It's not like you need molds for every possible shape. Measure the rider, and feed the measurements into the computer, and they can come pick up their custom-made bike in an hour, made to their exact specifications.

My only real concern is wearability. The kevlar belt will do OK, no doubt, but what about the crank and other moving parts? What happens when they wear out? Or do you just grind the whole bike (except the wheels) back to powder and make a new one (in which case, awesome recyclability, no pun intended).

Re:Why didn't they design an awesome bike? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449180)

little rocks are hell on kevlar belts.

Re:Why didn't they design an awesome bike? (1)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451296)

It looks like it's printed in parts and assembled, so presumably if you wanted to replace the worn parts you'd just print those. Or you could print them in some sort of hard-wearing ceramic separately, or something. There are many ways to skin that cat.

Re:Why didn't they design an awesome bike? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457822)

My only real concern is wearability. The kevlar belt will do OK, no doubt, but what about the crank and other moving parts? What happens when they wear out? Or do you just grind the whole bike (except the wheels) back to powder and make a new one (in which case, awesome recyclability, no pun intended).

Recyclability is good, but reusability is better. Recycling uses a significant amount of energy, and it's better to either reuse parts, or better yet make parts durable so they last a long time and don't need to be recycled too soon (which, if you think about it is a form of "reuse"; you're "reusing" it every time you get another use out of it).

3D printing sounds good as a manufacturing process, but I hope they don't start using it for all kinds of things it shouldn't be used for, creating throw-away products. No matter how recyclable you make something, some portion (or even a very large portion) will still go into landfills because most people are not very diligent at having things recycled.

How light is this (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446804)

TFA says it's 65% lighter than when manufactured traditionally, but how light is that? This could be a good material for car body panels (or even structural components) if it's light, strong, affordable, rustproof, and fails safely.

Re:How light is this (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447106)

TFA is confused; the process can be used to make parts 65% lighter than traditional. The Economist has a much better article:
http://www.economist.com/node/18114221?story_id=18114221 [economist.com]
Companies like EADS are using these methods with stuff like titanium to make parts the shape they need to be for their function, not the shape they need to be for their function + manufacturing considerations. That's where a lot of the weight savings come in. This bike is just a tech demo.

wtf??? not new tech (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446820)

was using ALM technology 15 years ago as manager of CAD/CAE group with various metals and plastics for rapid prototyping

Re:wtf??? not new tech (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447066)

I don't see anything claiming that this is a new technology. Only that the technology has developed to the point where its utility is not limited to prototyping, and it's becoming viable for full-on manufacturing.

Re:wtf??? not new tech (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447280)

the technology was not limited to prototyping 15 years ago either, it's just that beyond dozens or hundreds of parts, usually other manufacturing methods are more cost-effective. this would certainly include nylon parts

Re:wtf??? not new tech (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447918)

I believe the article is trying to say that the cost of ALM is coming down while the cost of materials and transportation continues to rise. So, at some point (probably soon), the savings in materials will exceed the cost of the ALM equipment, at least for certain products.

Especially when you start talking about having generalized ALM equipment more local to you that can make whatever you need, instead of making it and shipping it great distances which costs in both energy and damage losses, not to mention turnaround times.

The difference is even greater when you want something as customizable as a bicycle, where it takes someone with specialized knowledge and tools to build one out of a bunch of different parts from a bunch of different places and get one built out and tuned for you. A bicycle is a near-perfect example of something that currently takes a long time to procure, and/or involves middlemen who have to deal with excess stock in one part or shortages in another or damage-in-transit. You tell any serious cyclist they can get an efficient bike that weighs 2/3 what their current bike weighs in an hour down at the local copy shop, they'll pay a premium for that. Tell them it can be made to their exact size and body shape, and they'll start throwing money at you in large wads.

There will always be a place for traditional manufacturing, of course, but I think as the cost of materials creeps up and ALM and 3D printer technologies get cheaper and more available and more automated, you'll find first niche products, then more common products, being created this way.

Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (4, Interesting)

mclearn (86140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446962)

I recently saw a bamboo bicycle [calfeedesign.com] and was blown away by the look and feel. A biodegradable frame built out of material known for thousands of years to be highly durable and strong.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447054)

Did you see it for real or just on the website?

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447244)

Well, I've built one, so I'm pretty sure I've seen one for real.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

Chruisan (1040302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447932)

Calfee Design has traditionally been known for it's custom carbon fiber frames (I own one), but the founder, Craig Calfee, has done a lot of work teaching citizens of less-priviledged countries how to manufacture bamboo bicycles.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447158)

Bamboo covered with polyurethane and epoxy is biodegradable?

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447334)

In Canada even our Varathane is now water-borne. Surprised the hell out of me when when I went to the paint store they gave me a can of what looked like milk. You still need a respirator or you get a sore thought but it saved on gallons of lacquer thinner. (I use a commercial paint pump so cleaning it and a gun and 50 - 100 feet of hose makes lots of toxic waste.
As for polyurethane I can no longer get (within the last year) some of the industrial coating I used to use because they are deemed to toxic as well as contain lead.

Water-borne != biodegradable. (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448292)

Water just replaces a bunch of volatile organic solvents used for applying the stuff. The resulting film is the same as from a non-water-borne coating.

The water-borne "Diamond Finish" product from Varathane (quite good) has been available for at least 20 years now, and not only in Canada.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447246)

So it's both biodegradable and durable. That's quite an achievement!

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447362)

"...A biodegradable frame built out of material known for thousands of years to be highly durable and strong..."

You must be a 'cyclist'....second only to 'audiophiles' in their inability to parse numeric data when presented in association with the object of their obsession.

You saw that, and were blown away. I was too.

Of course, I was blown away because saw that a frame made of glorified GRASS cost $4200.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447858)

Whew...neat looking thing till I saw the price...for freakin' bicycle?!?!?

Hell...over $4K..that's a great down payment on a motorcycle!!!

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449746)

I ride a bicycle for my main form of transport. I don't own any motorized vehicle (hell, I don't even have a driver's license in this country...)

Like you say, $4K will make a down payment for a motorcycle. You've got insurance and gas to pay for as well. Although I've seen bicycles that cost as much as $13K, a $4K bike is a ridiculously good bike. And it only costs what you'd have to pay for a down payment on a motorcycle, or car. And maintenance costs are negligible.

I live next to where I work. I almost never have to go more than 100K return trip in any day (and that's rare). I don't go more than 40K more than once or twice a week. But 40K is an hour and a half of exercise for a moderately fit person. Good cyclists go considerably faster. So it's taking you a bit longer than taking a car, but you are getting 90 minutes of exercise in the bargain. Avoiding the cost of a gym more than pays for the bike over the lifetime of the bike.

Now, personally, I wouldn't buy a $4K bike. Even a $2K bike is ridiculously good. But it hardly matters. Compared to most motorized vehicles, bikes are practically free.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448358)

A bamboo frame is not a bicycle.

I'd be impressed if they could make the sprockets and chain out of bamboo also, not to mention the wheels hubs, rims and spokes. :)

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35451190)

Yes the bicycle is not completely bamboo. And you're not a complete idiot.

But close enough.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (2)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447588)

If you're interested in this, there are companies that will walk you through a two-day course in making your own bamboo bicycle. Make Magazine had an article on it recently [makezine.com] . Calfee's bamboo bikes ride wonderfully, even the crazy one using actual steerhorns as handlebars [mtbr.com] I've also gotten to ride a Boo Bicycles [boobicycles.com] frame, and it was lovely. They're flexier than the bikes I'm used to, and there are sometimes issues with homebuilt ones having the bamboo split lengthwise, but the commercial ones are awesome.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449456)

If you are more old-school and want to make a wicked cool bike out of steel, check out tomiczombies.com [atomiczombies.com] .

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450090)

He has a book full of those -- at least one -- that has complete plans for making maybe 15 different frames. I've done a couple and they're a lot of fun. It's a good way to learn to weld. Right now a deranged friend of mine and I are working on a sidecar we can stick on a BMX bike or a recumbent, because that'd fit right into the atomic zombie philosophy. I love his ultra-low racing recumbent but haven't gotten a chance to make one yet. Which is to say: fantastic book, get it, build some.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447624)

yea and at only 3,000 dollars it's affordable as well

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451518)

yea and at only 3,000 dollars it's affordable as well

If cycling is your hobby $3000 isn't unreasonable. I know plenty of people that spend roughly that amount [tfl.gov.uk] every year on transport, so it could even be easy to justify.

Personally, this year I expect I'll spend about £200 on bicycle-stuff (comprehensive insurance, a new chain, someone might steal my lights at some point, I'll probably impulse-buy something expensive, shiny and pointless, ...). That covers getting to and from work, and other associated journeys (e.g. shopping on the way home, meeting people after work). The bike cost about £500 two years ago. I'll also spend about £250 on local public transport, since I'm not trying to save money and often prefer to travel with friends.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447738)

Watch out for roving pandas.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447900)

A biodegradable frame

You say that as if it's a good thing. "Biodegradable" is a desirable property in things that get used once or twice, or at most for a very short time, and then discarded. Things that are supposed to stay around should not degrade, much less on their own simply by natural biological processes.

If you want to consider the environmental footprint of your purchases, by all means, do so; it's a good idea. But please, get a bike that'll actually last for 20 years, not one that'll rot away in six months, leaving you with the need to buy a new one. In terms of its footprint, the durable bike will actually be much more environmentally friendly.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448424)

I'm not certain I want a biodegradable frame. What happens to the strength after a few years of dripping sweat on it during interval training or races? How about getting caught in the rain/snow a few times a year? Will the frame biodegrade to the point where as I enter a down hill corner the front wheel continues around the corner while Newtonian mechanics means that the back of the bike will continue in a straight line as it's no longer attached to the front? I already have enough scars from other things going wrong (e.g. rolling a tire in a crit).

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449014)

I actually own a Calfee Bamboo bike (the cyclocross setup if anyone is interested). It's definitely one of the best bikes I've ever ridden much less owned.

I live in an area that's very inhospitable to metal (tropical island, lots of salt spray, rust and corrosion is a huge problem for everything), so I looked into getting a "rust proof" bike. I researched bamboo bikes for a while and decided that it would be worth the high initial investment instead of buying a standard Sun bike and replace parts every few months. On my Sun bike, I had to replace the chain and bottom bracket within the first 3 months of ownership. On my Calfee I've only had to replace the chain once in a year and a half. With the 10 year warranty on the frame, I expect to have this bike much longer than I would if I were using my Sun for daily riding (typically people replace their Sun bikes every 1 to 2 years). So paying for a $450 bike every year or so multiplied out by 10 years is still less than what I paid for the Calfee.

I bought my bike for very utilitarian reasons (it's my daily rider and I often hook a trailer up to it and pull around 100+ pounds of SCUBA gear), not because I wanted to "go Green". Plus it's just cool. I still get questions from people about the bike, whether it's real bamboo or just made to look like bamboo.

Yeah, the initial investment was a bit high, but the amount I'm saving on maintenance costs and replacement costs I believe will make the purchase worth it in the long run.

Re:Bamboo bicycles are just as strong (1)

randy of the redwood (1565519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449126)

Hardwood is also a real possibility. I am in the process of testing frames made of baltic birch ply, and have achieved 2.6 pound frames so far with good rigidity. It's not ground breaking, check out http://renovobikes.com/ [renovobikes.com] for real works of art that are very ridable.

I'm not sure i would trust it for racing (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447086)

Can you take it out of the garage in 10+ years or so. And run it down hill at 80km/h without it starts crumbling into granulate due to oxidation.
Or even worse break into long pointy sharp fragments?

Re:I'm not sure i would trust it for racing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447154)

Can you take it out of the garage in 10+ years or so.

Why? Just print out a new one, re-use whatever can't be printed. There might even be a better design available.

Re:I'm not sure i would trust it for racing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447810)

Yeah. Why didn't i think about that.
Maybe you can also print out a fresh new couple of front teeth when the construction wont take it anymore :€ :)

Re:I'm not sure i would trust it for racing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448192)

Ideally, you would print out the new one before the old one fails, i.e. instead of using the old one that had been in the garage for 10+ years. But you can do it your way if you want.

Bicycling Science, 3rd Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447384)

Bicycling Science [amazon.com] for those of you with a more theoretical taste for cycling.

Figures the geeky subby would leave out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447478)

the one stat any cyclist would want to know: weight savings. Stick with tech, nerds.

No user serviceable parts inside.. for real.. (2)

greywire (78262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447768)

There's one thing about this that nobody seems to be noticing, and that is how good this is from the perspective of companies that want to sell you more product... as opposed to you fixing your product, they'd rather you buy a new one.

Huh?

Did you read the part about how the bearings (I assume these were not made using the same process, but I am sure at some point they would be) are essentially embedded into the structure as it was built up around them? Guess what? That means you are SOL when they wear out.

Products are already manufactured and assembled often going out their way to be difficult to disassemble to discourage repairs (at least by yourself; authorized repairs require special tools, etc). Imagine the future where, these awesome items are cool to look at and cheaper than ever to design, prototype and manufacture and oh by the way they are impossible to repair unless you want to recycle the whole thing because they are built up and around other components in such a way that its not possible to disassemble at all.

Am I proposing there's some conspiracy here? of course not. But its nice and convenient for our throw away society and I am sure somebody's already realized this and is salivating at the thought of non-repairable items.

Re:No user serviceable parts inside.. for real.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448422)

If you can fully recycle it, it isn't a big deal unless the item is expensive.

At least internal parts would no longer be exposed, so in theory they wouldn't get dirty and would last longer. Though, I guess it wouldn't handle pressure changes as well as exposed parts (don't really know if that matters or not).

Re:No user serviceable parts inside.. for real.. (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35449120)

Did you read the part about how the bearings (I assume these were not made using the same process, but I am sure at some point they would be) are essentially embedded into the structure as it was built up around them? Guess what? That means you are SOL when they wear out.

Just because the frame is grown around the original bearings doesn't mean that a way can't be developed to remove the old ones and replace them.

You know your hip joint grew together with surrounding bone, yet we can replace that. :)

At some point someone is going to want a new bearing, and someone will find a way of making this cheaper than a complete replacement, while earning a profit for himself.

No servicing (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451112)

It might make sense for the industry EADS is in, as maintenance of spacecraft is something very uncommon. So the question here might be, can this replace in reliability and efficiency some other materials in aerospace?

Hey, guess what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447790)

Just like everything else everybody is making, it looks like the north end of a south-facing donkey.

You can make a synthetic bike frame with old tech. (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448114)

Resin and fibers (nylon, carbon, ...).

The only news here is that process for growing from a nylon powder.

Re:You can make a synthetic bike frame with old te (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35449206)

Correct. Your point?

The Airbike requires no conventional maintenance (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448252)

In other words, when it breaks, there's no way to fix it. And it looks like it will shatter the first time it crashes into something.

Start doing ALM with metal or carbon and I'll be impressed.

Re:The Airbike requires no conventional maintenanc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35450416)

They already do it with metal. The bicycle was just a demonstration of their capabilities.

In fact, this company makes aircraft components out of titanium. They originally just used the process for prototyping, then realized they could use it for manufacturing the production parts as well. Since it only uses enough raw materials as the part actually needs, it saves a lot compared to machining a billet where 90% of the raw material gets recycled as shavings. Furthermore, conventional machining processes require leaving more raw material in the part in order to manufacture it. The ALM process doesn't have to leave material where a tool can't reach it, for example.

Since titanium is expensive to buy and expensive to machine, and weight is critical on aircraft, this is a great process to use on airplane parts.

dom

Re:The Airbike requires no conventional maintenanc (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35451976)

Start doing ALM with metal or carbon and I'll be impressed.
And nylon is made out of...wait for it...Carbon!

Crystal Ball says: FAIL (1)

zaivala (887815) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450174)

Considering a bicycle company came into - and went out of - business in the late 70s with The Original Plastic Bicycle Company, with no reason to go out of business (great product, made of foamed Lexan except for the chain and the hubs) other than the unwillingness of the public to buy said product, I don't see any rosier future for this one.

Missing info (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452134)

I notice talk of "weight savings in the components" but somehow they never got around to telling me what that particular nylon bike weighs in total. That suggests, to me, that the non-component part of the bicycle (e.g., the frame) is not that light, so the entire bike's weight is not nearly so impressive.

And this would be a big deal for a commuter-style bike like that; I played with a cheap folding bike once (Craigslist, yay) on a couple of trips, and the weight was a real issue whenever I was carrying it instead of riding it. Get that bike down below 15lbs, that would be interesting. (And if they DID, and failed to mention it, get better marketing.)
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