3D printed Empire bike

Home Forum Bike Forum 3D printed Empire bike

Viewing 38 posts - 1 through 38 (of 38 total)
  • 3D printed Empire bike
  • ruminant
    Member

    Empire 3D printed bike

    Like the look of this, but why print in titanium rather than aluminium ?

    andyl
    Member

    not up to speed with the ins and outs but I do know printing with titanium is very popular. Possibly as is the people who want to use titanium anyway that have the funds and need to put in the research or maybe it’s because it is sexier or easier to do in titanium.

    Might be a problem with the oxide layer of aluminium meaning the strength isn’t as good.

    Or maybe it is because aluminium is a bit poo.

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    You’d think they’d sort out their bikes riding qualities before dicking about with experimental manufacturing? First casting (dh bike was ok, trail/enduro bike was dogshit according to all the reviews) now ti 3d printing? Can’t imagine that’s a cheap affair?

    IanMunro
    Member

    It’s a good question. Not sure. I guess it might be that the alloying elements in aluminium alloys (cos you don’t want a frame made of pure aluminium) aren’t conducive to the printing process.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I like it. Someone pushing new technology forward, even if not perfect and for (good) publicity…

    Premier Icon Onzadog
    Subscriber

    San Andreas?

    Looks like a bag of spanners, but the implications for the industry, and, by definition us, are pretty awesome.

    Printed on a Renishaw AM250 if anybody is interested in the machine. Shame about the price … printing in 20 micron layers to get reasonable quality takes days to build up the full height. The full frame was done on one plate but the machine only has a working height of around 300mm, hence it is done in sections and glued together. You can see the joins. Total cost I seam to remember being something silly like £30k. The main advantage is you can put metal exactly where you need it, and only where you need it, so a lot of excess weight can be saved. There is a photo of the plate as it comes out of the machine here:

    Empire Cycles x Renishaw – World’s First 3d Printed Complete Bicycle Frame

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    i’m not a fan of Empire, they seem dedicated to finding the most complicated, most time consuming, most expensive way, of making a bike frame.

    but their stubborn dedication to the cause is admirable.

    “If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through!”

    (Lord Melchett approves)

    matther01
    Member

    I think its much cheaper printing titanium as they use titanium dust. Using fabricated titanium leads to loads of waste under normal methods.

    400 quid a kilo said titanium dust

    coogan
    Member

    That is one god awful looking bike.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    misinformer – Member
    400 quid a kilo said titanium dust

    Which explains a lot as the last people I was teaching were mining for the stuff 🙂

    PJM1974
    Member

    Lovely concept, but the execution has some way to go. Ideally, a 3d printed frame should be easy and cheap to produce, at the same time as offering a real advantage over welded tubes.

    It’s a bit like seeing those wonderful Harley Earl automotive concept creations of the 1950s, all sci-fi lines and technology perched atop a cart sprung live axle.

    Premier Icon nach
    Subscriber

    We’re quite a way off 3D printing being cheap. It being prototyping tech makes it convenient for some things, but very kludgey to scale into production beyond short runs.

    Premier Icon takisawa2
    Subscriber

    They must have run out of Ti dust to print a chain.

    tazzymtb
    Member

    saw that in the flesh a couple of days ago at its birth place, lovely idea, looks ace, and you could do some really clever stuff with the technology.

    I suppose the costs are in turning the metal into dust and the printing, so the difference in cost between aluminium and Ti is probably far lower than when welding tubes together?

    clubber
    Member

    I think its much cheaper printing titanium as they use titanium dust. Using fabricated titanium leads to loads of waste under normal methods.

    But you wouldn’t make a DH suspension bike from ti unless it was to allow you to 3D print. And then if you’re making a hardtail, there’s not a lot of waste – tubes are drawn and the only machined parts are the BB and dropouts and even those are usually forged or near net forged IIRC.

    ahwiles – Member
    i’m not a fan of Empire, they seem dedicated to finding the most complicated, most time consuming, most expensive way, of making a bike frame.

    I’m surprised they’re still in business, they can’t have sold many bikes. Surprised, and a bit glad, cool to see companies doing different stuff.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    I find the process fascinating.
    Some structures appearing similar to carbon, others similar to forging/casting.

    This photo makes a few things clearer:

    Shame about the joins along tubes, but then someone will come up with something unique that only this process can achieve.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    misinformer – Member

    400 quid a kilo said titanium dust
    There’s a company in Rotherham who reckon they can get under £100 a kilo using a single-step electrolysis powder-creation process (as opposed to the current 4-step process).

    http://www.metalysis.com/titanium

    I’m sure they’re working with Renishaw/Sheffield University given that there seems to be a Sheffield/South Yorkshire focus on all this.

    agent007
    Member

    Great to see someone pushing the boundary’s of what’s possible and I think the Empire bikes look pretty cool. Never actually seen one out on the trails though – wonder how many bikes they have sold so far?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    It’s fascinating. I love it.

    As a show case for technology/process for an engineering company I think their bikes are great.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    I was doing some work with these guys a few years ago. http://itponline.com/ Don’t know if there are similar advantages with the printing process, but they’re into forming components from powdered titanium alloys for quality control and cost reasons.

    Some alloying ingredients don’t mix well in liquid form, leading to inconsistencies in the end product. If you can mix them in powder form, they’ll stay mixed until they’re in place in the mould and then heated/ pressurised, so the movement of material and time for undesirable precipitation, crystalising etc is kept to a minimum.

    And there’s fewer steps:

    thepodge
    Member

    doesn’t the head of Empire (the Emperor?) work for the 3D printing place? That was my understanding of it.

    If that is the case then I guess its a good advert for both of them

    danjthomas
    Member

    Aluminium is harder to process by laser due to its conductivity. basically a small melt spot with Ti will stay samll but aluminum will end up as a bigger less controllable melt. Making these bikes from Ti will be uber expensive. If you imaging the amount of 20micorn layers x the amount of time for the laster to pass on each layer + the amount of time needed to re-deposit a new layer (drop more powder). I doubt this build was short of 24 hrs to make.

    Also, you could only build 1 or 2 max at once.

    Surely, the whole point is for renishaw to show off thier capabilities.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    As interesting as it might seem the technology isn’t all that new and I can’t quite fathom why they did it in Titanium (I assume it was a bit of a freebe/promotional exercise with Renishaw)…

    I’ve been looking at SLS for some other stuff lately, but using Stainless steel (Bronze infused) which is significantly cheaper than Ti, it’s most interesting if you are looking at replacing a machining process as it actually gets cheaper, the more material you can eliminate from the part.
    You get to the point where a relatively intricate component which would cost a fortune to machine due to all the operations, costs less and weights less than if you did it on a mill and/or lathe, all the little rad’s Chamfers and undercuts that bad designers often chuck in, complicating models and bumping up machining costs, suddenly become a saving, it’s great in that respect.

    Of course Empire’s demonstrator works the opposite way, the traditional method of manufacturing a Ti frame is relatively efficient compared to laser sintering the whole bastard thing, And TBH working in Carbon makes far more sense if you want to save weight and make a strong structure, but this isn’t going to be an available product any time soon…

    Where I could see SLS perhaps being usefully applied for bike frames is to short run or custom frame manufacture, for the production of tooling and/or lugs which would allow a builder to use pre-formed carbon sections (Tube profiles) which are quite easy to produce Vs a full mould tool or a plug for a monocoque, you could use the method to manufacture “custom” lugged carbon frames for relatively little cost and time…

    SLS doesn’t really produce nicely grain aligned structures either, so I’d perhaps be concerned about how the components deal with loads when compared to more traditional ways of producing frames.

    Ultimately though I still don’t understand how Empire make any money, they seem to be in a kind of ever evolving cycle of R&D where the only goal is to eliminate the most common (and cost effective) methods of bicycle frame manufacture (welding or laminating) and buggeration to the cost… Honestly how do they stay in business, who’s actually bought one of their bikes lately?

    legend
    Member

    agent007 – Member

    Great to see someone pushing the boundary’s of what’s possible and I think the Empire bikes look pretty cool. Never actually seen one out on the trails though – wonder how many bikes they have sold so far?

    Not many, the DH bike was crack-happy and I’m led to believe that the casting supplier walked away in the end. The shorter travel ‘machined’ bike brings nothing new to the party other than a horrific price-tag.

    It would be nice if they just focused on getting a good bike sorted out before they started playing with processes. The company reeks of just being an Engineers play-thing

    Premier Icon nach
    Subscriber

    I’ve been looking at SLS for some other stuff lately, but using Stainless steel (Bronze infused) which is significantly cheaper than Ti, it’s most interesting if you are looking at replacing a machining process as it actually gets cheaper, the more material you can eliminate from the part.
    You get to the point where a relatively intricate component which would cost a fortune to machine due to all the operations, costs less and weights less than if you did it on a mill and/or lathe, all the little rad’s Chamfers and undercuts that bad designers often chuck in, complicating models and bumping up machining costs, suddenly become a saving, it’s great in that respect.

    I’ve done a little bit of 3-axis CNC milling, and this is really interesting to hear; thanks.

    Premier Icon Speeder
    Subscriber

    i expect this is simply a showpiece for Renishaw to advertise their products more widely. After all, while showing these things off you might as well try and make something useful and push boundaries. All that costs is time if it’s factored into the PR budget. You never know there may even be some government grants available for this kind of stuff. It wouldn’t be unheard of.

    Premier Icon nach
    Subscriber

    Going by the audit exemption shown in their info at companies house, they’re an SME, for whom R&D tax credits give 225% tax relief. Only available if the company owns the IP resulting from the research though.

    agent007
    Member

    So has anyone on here actually bought or ridden an Empire? The costs of their trail bike seem not too far off the mark when you compare to some other high end bikes. PDF magazine reviews (the ones on their website) look favourable and personally I love the engineered look of the thing. I’d also rather buy British than from abroad. Anyone here taken the plunge?

    Had mine 2 and1/2 years and love it ! Doesn’t get as much use as it should though.
    Also. No cracks here 🙂

    gears_suck
    Member

    Had mine 2 and1/2 years and love it ! Doesn’t get as much use as it should though.
    Also. No cracks here

    You’ve explained that yourself.

    Some people think they are more clever than they actually are.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Subscriber

    The company reeks of just being an Engineers play-thing

    Have to agree with that. I think it’s great that they are advancing innovation and new technology, but I’m finding it hard to believe that a uk company would have been able to push on with the position of that shock bearing in mind typical uk conditions. Hell, any conditions would have to quickly put an end to that shock shaft there surely?

    Seems like they have a list of processes and features that they want to fit on to a bike build, and the practicality of it as an actual bike is maybe less important. Some sort of shock guard is essential there I’d have thought, fitting one in may be tricky.

    Crell
    Member

    Thankyou to the engineer types on this thread. Fascinating reading. I do like to see innovation, and see nothing wrong in building a proof of concept. The reasons tend to be free advertising and column inches, a loss leader for a halo product or genuine production investigation or intent. Can’t see the latter applying here as the costs are known up front. I have always liked the look of Empires, but the practical aspects (like that shock position and rear clearance ) suggest as said above that Tue emphasis isn’t always on the practical aspects (just like a prototype then!)

Viewing 38 posts - 1 through 38 (of 38 total)

The topic ‘3D printed Empire bike’ is closed to new replies.