Additive manufacturing — essentially 3D printING...
...although the trendy people now call it AM. It is already used in the cycling industry, but mostly to make small frame components such as connecting lugs, head tubes or dropouts.
Currently we are using electron beam melting (EBM) to produce major frame parts for the Kingdom Bike VOID and then afterwards using a heat treatment (HIP) to add a further 10% strength. The EBM process offers greater strength-cost effectiveness and makes more sense for larger component parts like on the VOID.
Our aim with VOID was to form major, stress-laden moving parts that would be impossible using traditional manufacturing methods and using additive manufacturing to help us reduce wastage during construction. EBM has worked out amazingly, with some finishing at our factory the rough surfaces can be smoothed and tolerances of the printed parts can be reduced to allow for the precision manufacture we require.
The advantages of print are obvious but in a world with dwindling resources and environmental protection from production is key the AM process also offers reduced material waste – Building up the part layer by layer eliminates most of the waste associated with subtractive manufacturing technologies. After the part is complete, any excess powder is collected and recycled.
We used EBM again on our Locked Cranks. By printing a small connecting shoulder part either side of the 30mm spindle it allowed us to join tubing arms to the assembly and create a stylish crank. The printed parts are also been HIP treated for extra strength and making the cranks bombproof. Finally the whole assembled crank is polished to remove some of the rough finish on the print but retain the functional industrial look.
Our revamped stem The Ronin 2 will use EBM and we will endeavor to completely produce the stem in print in either one or two parts, followed by finishing to apply the correct tolerances for thread interfaces, bars and steerer’s. Currently a work in progress but we will soon have a few different prototypes based on the design below to test for strength and applied stress. Read more about the NEW Ronin 2 stem...
After our success applying printed parts to the VOID and our Locked Cranks we believe AM is the future of bikes and metal (titanium in particular) so we are committed to using additive manufacturing to the full to create component and bike designs that would be otherwise impossibly intricate, prohibitively expensive or excessively wasteful with traditional manufacturing or CNC techniques.