Carbon fiber bikes may become a whole lot cheaper with 3D-printed frames

A company backed by the CIA that calls itself Arevo is hoping to lead a revolution in manufacturing that uses 3D printing to build products in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. The Silicon Valley, California startup recently picked up $12.5 million in funding to help pursue this goal and has revealed an impressive proof-of-concept product to help demonstrate its capabilities. That product is a carbon fiber bike frame that could give us a glimpse of the future for the cycling industry.

Arevo 3D printed bike

According to Arevo, its bike frame is the first to be 3D printed using carbon fiber. The company uses 3D printer technology, paired with a custom-built robotic arm and web-based software, to create products made from proprietary raw materials. The robot arm is able to print out shapes in a single pass using a thermoplastic material that is melted into strands of carbon fiber that helps bind everything together. The end result is a bike frame that costs about $300 to make, which is considerably less than what most bike manufacturers pay.

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Six ways to cut costs with 3D Printing

3D printing can cut costs by accelerating production and reducing tooling costs, work-in-process, and waste. Here are some design considerations for making this happen.

3D printing3D printing (aka additive manufacturing) has gone far beyond making prototypes quickly. It is now entrenched in manufacturing, and examples abound:

  • The Juno spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin and NASA and currently completing its mission in orbit around Jupiter, carries a dozen 3D-printed waveguide support brackets.
  • Activated Research Co. used 3D Printing to develop a new design for its Polyarc gas chromatography catalytic microreactor, bringing it to market in just 15 months.
  • Raytheon uses 3D printing for rocket engines, fins, and control components for guided missiles, creating parts in hours rather than days.
  • Boeing set a world record in 2016 by building the largest 3D-printed item ever made, a fixture used in building 777 airplanes, reportedly cutting weeks off its manufacturing time.
  • Brunswick Corp. relied on 3D printing for air conditioning grills on its Sea Ray yachts, eliminating the need for disposable tooling and speeding product development.
  • This air-conditioning grill for Sea Ray yachts was 3D printed.

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3D manufacturing boosted by lower prices

A demonstration of 3D printing a car was provided at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.<br>Photo by Ian Shalapata.A price decrease in a major raw material used in the 3D printing of plastic products is expected to further advance the use of additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, by high volume manufacturers such as Ford and Adidas.

Silicon Valley-based 3D technology company, Carbon Inc, says it will reduce the prices of some of its polymer resins and expects this will result in a significant increase in the addressable market for 3D manufactured parts.

In a news release, the company said it would lower prices by 40 per cent. It expects the reduction in the price of rigid polyurethane, or RPU 70, to $150 per liter, down from the current $250 per liter, will facilitate economic production particularly for Adidas.

The shoe manufacturer will be able to cost-effectively print, “… thousands or millions of parts … compared to other manufacturing methods such as injection molding,” noted Carbon Inc chief executive Dr Joseph DeSimone.

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The quest for 3D printing material data

New materials developed to expand 3D printing need published material properties, but there are layers of difficulty.

Designing functional engineered systems using 3D printing requires more data on material properties. A paper that helped add some of the necessary data on the “Thermal Properties of 3-D Printing Polylactic Acid–Metal Composites” was published.  Researchers aimed the study at copperFill, bronzeFill, magnetic iron polylactic acid (PLA), and stainless-steel PLA composites and provide insight into the technical considerations of fused filament fabrication (FFF) composite 3-D printing. The following is taken from this study.

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US Marines’ 3D printed drone is 200 times cheaper than production version

A marine prepares to hand launch a Raven drone/image via Defense Industry Daily3D printed drone technology has been an emerging area over the past year, with military surveillance use seeing a particular boom.

To add to the recent developments in drone delivery systems and swarming dronespurpose built to be air dropped, U.S. Marine TOW gunner Cpl. Rhet McNeal has developed a hand-launched fixed wing drone, with the help of NexLog (the US Marine Corps’ “Next Generation Logistics innovation group”, in conjunction with Penn State university) and Autodesk.

Autodesk is a CAD design development software company that additionally offers residencies to developers with full access of professional tools and advice at their purpose built Pier 9 workshop in San Francisco, California.

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HP seeks to lower manufacturers’ 3D printing costs

The cost of 3D printing is often cited as a reason why firms aren’t driving to adopt the technology more resolutely.  Perhaps the increased competition of having a big hitter like HP will change the dynamics of the industry.


With its release of a 3D printing materials development kit and the opening of its 3D printing applications lab, HP looks to expand the development and lower the costs of additive manufacturing.

After years of announcements about the potentials for additive manufacturing/3D printing in the discrete manufacturing and process industries, there has recently been a spate of news announcements from end users and technology suppliers that show the rapid progress this technology is making across industry. Now, there’s news from HP—a company more traditionally associated with enterprise and consumer technologies—surrounding what it calls “significant milestones to its open platform for 3D printing materials and production-ready applications development.”

Before detailing the two new announcements from HP, it’s worth noting that, in May 2016, HP released its HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, a production-ready commercial 3D printing system which HP said could “deliver superior quality physical parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems.” This printing system can reportedly print functional parts at the individual voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a 2D pixel in traditional printing).

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Rize One 3D Printer Case Study: Cut the post-processing, cut the costs & time in 3D printing

A case study always brings to life the theory, making it real, and one that demonstrates the impact of 3D printing on the supply chain is always welcome!  Boston Engineering has recently been using the capabilities of the Rize One industrial 3D printer to speed up the cycle time of production and to lowering costs.  Sarah Saunders of 3dprint.com takes up the story.


boston-engineering-logoMassachusetts-based industrial 3D printing company Rize Inc., known for its augmented polymer deposition technology, introduced its desktop Rize One 3D printer last summer: the printer, with its high-speed support removal, pretty much eliminates the need for post-processing, saving users all kinds of time. We saw first-hand just last month that, as promised, the support structures do snap off quite quickly. The Rize One was the subject of a recent case study at Boston Engineering, also in Massachusetts, which provides engineering consulting and product design services for many industries, including consumer products, robotics, medical devices, and commercial products. The company has an FDM 3D printer in its additive manufacturing lab, but it was taking too long for the engineers, who are not housed in the lab, to get their 3D printed parts.

Frank Marangell

Boston Engineering works hard to beat its competition and solve client challenges, by quickly getting products to market or designing the products themselves. But, you need speed to be the best, and the company’s current system just wasn’t working. The additive manufacturing lab is located far away from the offices, because the current 3D printer’s post-processing method needs the parts to soak in a chemical bath to remove support materials. The issue was causing a major bottleneck, as engineers were having to wait up to three days to get their 3D printed parts back from the lab. Add this to any possible design iterations that resulted in further 3D prints, and you can see the problem. In addition, the company’s FDM 3D printer was costing Boston Engineering too much money, what with the high operating costs that came with the necessary post-processing (materials, handling, labor, etc.).

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Five of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers in 3D printing

While 3D printing is undoubted entering mainstream manufacture – and at rates that are faster than many realise – it is important to note that there continue to be challenges to be overcome.  This isn’t a surprise, after all all disruptive technologies do.  This article from Apple Rubber discusses some of the key ones.


3d printing challengesAccording to Wohlers Associates, the global 3D printing market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2020 — quadrupling its size in just four years. While 3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, comes with many benefits, such as freedom of design, easy prototyping, customization and streamlined logistics, it also poses many challenges.

In order to fully leverage this transformational technology, we identified five 3D printing challenges that manufacturing leaders must understand.

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3D printing technology on Dubai Metro to reduce costs

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has begun printing parts for subsystems of the TVMs (Ticket Vending Machines), ticket gates and other areas of the metro train system using advanced 3D printing technology.

“The 3D printing technology is advancing rapidly across the world and RTA is strongly inclined to be a forerunner in this 3D generation by highlighting the world’s best practices adopted in the rail industry. Future scope includes developments that are required to manage obsolescence, which is a huge burden of any railway worldwide,” said AbdulMohsin Ibrahim Younes, CEO of RTA’s Rail Agency.

“This technology would enable the RTA to keep the Dubai metro assets in service longer while reducing the cost of parts and in turn pass this saving back to the customer. An example of this is when small parts are needed, normal practice dictates a local manufacturer would need to produce hundreds to justify his cost,” Younes noted.

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How businesses save money with 3D printing

From racing cars to life-changing medical operations, 3D printing is opening up opportunities for businesses to be more creative – and saving them time and money in the process.

3D printed pocket-sized versions of the larger Strakka racing cars

Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has been in existence since the 1980s, but modern technological advancements in printers and materials have recently created a boom in the number of businesses using it. The 3D printing industry is expected to be worth $21bn by 2020, but how are businesses using it and why? We spoke to SMEs from a variety of sectors for their experiences.

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