Tuesday, May 4, 2010

3D Printing Frame Designs

There was a video made by a Dutch TV group about Specialized Bikes' design process. Observe how they're using their rapid prototyping printer to create preliminary designs for approval. Another company I can think of, right off the top of my head, that does the same is Giro eyewear. Of course, I'm sure there's more. Back in the old days, something like this would be done by a dedicated team of concept artists.

The printer is essentially the same as any paper employing printer, except these ones use molten plastic and build them in layers in a process called Fused Deposition Modeling. So the one at Specialized is a Dimension SST 1200 that builds a model in layers of 0.010 inches thick. Its pretty fascinating to see one in action. Like this :

Do you use 3D printers in your projects? I haven't, but I have often wondered about the kind of part geometries these things can't handle. I have seen parts made from 3D printers and those ones don't look too nice surface finish wise. But hey, it gives the message.

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