3D printed titanium bike!


How a 3D printed titanium bike points the way to products custom-fit for you

Design firm Industry has developed a bike that demonstrates how the lines are blurring in design, engineering and manufacturing. This shift will ultimately allow companies to tailor products to individuals.

PARIS – The Solid is an unusual bicycle: it’s 3D-printed out of titanium, it’s unusually streamlined, it will take you on routes designed to help you discover a city and it tells you where to turn by buzzing signals in the handlebars. It’s also a harbinger of how products will be built in the future.

But the Solid, designed by a Portland, Ore.-based firm called Industry and unveiled Thursday here for the Connected Conference, is unusual in another way, too. It’s not a product to be sold, but instead a project to help Industry figure out the future of design and manufacturing.

Figuring out that future is tough. In the old days, designers would come up with a product’s look on paper or clay, then hand it off to engineers who’d try to make it work in the real world. Nowadays, designers and engineers work simultaneously, scanning sketches, printing prototypes in plastic and iterating from one possibility to the next as fast as possible. And 3D printers, which fuse raw materials layer by layer into metal or plastic components, will open the door to new levels of customization.

The end result may not mean you can buy the Solid in a bike shop next year. But according to Industry co-founder Oved Valadez, it will completely transform the products you do buy.

“The future is about bringing ‘personal’ back to service,” Valadez said. Instead of buying something in size small, medium or large, you’ll buy it in “size me,” he said.

That approach will apply to footwear, bicycles, cars and more, he predicted. “You’ll scan yourself with your handheld [phone], and it’ll give you a recommendation about what is your perfect size.”

Valadez’s profession changed dramatically decades ago with the gradual spread of computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM), but the arrival of 3D printers means the technological transformation isn’t over. Another big shift is the spread of computing hardware and software beyond personal computers and smartphones and into cars, toys, thermostats, streetlights, traffic signals and myriad other devices – a trend broadly called the Internet of Things.

Competitive pressure

The computing industry’s appetite for competitive, fast-paced change also has helped bring the once-separate disciplines of design, engineering and manufacturing closer together, said Marc Chareyron, co-founder of French design firm Enero.

“If you have a designer who hands the work to an engineer who hands it to the software engineer, then the iterations are so long, it takes years to build something,” Chareyron said. That’ll doom a project: during that wait, products will be overtaken by competitors’ models or by new technology trends.

For Valadez and Industry, the Solid bike project was a way to bring new hardware, software, and collaborative approaches into the business. They’d photograph life-size sketches and import them into Autodesk‘s Fusion 360 and Alias software. They’d make old-style cardboard and use new-era 3D printers to create components for the bike. And when it was time for manufacturing, they combined 3D printing with traditional hand-finishing and hand-welding techniques drawing on the expertise of titanium bike frame maker Ti Cycles.

“It’s the new way. It’s more iterated and collaborative. It allows you to quickly bring form and function to the same level,” Valadez said. “Unlike 10 years ago, utility and beauty are now one.”

They built a bike with software, too. A smartphone app lets people select routes through a city that spotlights interesting attractions, shopping areas, restaurants. And inside the bike itself is an Arduino-based electronics board that handles the bike’s GPS position tracking and signals to the rider when it’s time to turn right or left by buzzing the appropriate handlebar grip.

Among Industry’s clients are Nike, Intel, Starbucks and InCase, a maker of bags and cases for carrying delicate electronic products.

3D printing still immature

3D printing is good for making prototypes, but the technology can’t handle everything yet when it comes to manufacturing, he said. There are size limits to fusing parts out of titanium powder, for example, and 3D-printed parts still require a lot of finishing.

But 3D printing opens up new options. For one thing, it permits much more complicated shapes that can do multiple jobs. Some of the Solid’s components have interior walls that both increase strength in high-stress areas and serve to route brake and gear-shifting cables internally for a sleek look, for example.

Building complex parts that serve dual or triple functions is important, especially in areas like the automotive industry where durability is important. A part that serves multiple jobs means designers can avoid bolting together components that over time can rattle loose and break.

For Industry, the 3D printing was a learning experience — for example in understanding how much the titanium needed to be finished with grinders and bead-blasting and how much that would change the dimensions of the product.

Despite the rough patches, though, Valadez is a convert. As with early technologies like molding and computer-controlled machine tools, 3D printing is maturing. “There are limitations,” Valadez said, “but it is the future.”


by | May 28, 20155:30 AM PDT

First 3D printed laptop

Thanks to the massive support that it received on Indiegogo, it looks like we’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot more about 3D-printed laptops very soon! 🙂


With just 68 hours till the deadline, the world’s first 3D-printed Raspberry Pi laptop, Pi-Top, has already smashed its Indiegogo campaign target, racking up a whopping $129,000 (£81,000).

What makes Pi-Top stand out is that it fuses a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design and 3D printing — a combination that endows you with the prerequisite know-how to create your own hardware product, according to its creators.

The main aim of the project is to make “hardware as accessible as software,” so the brains behind this 3D-printed laptop want to make their product as beginner-friendly as possible.

With that in mind, the creators — a group of studentengineers from various UK universities — have ensured that anybody can make the kit in an evening.

Creativity is also key to the product as Pi-Top aims to provide a platform on which you can hone your computing skills and learn to code your own hardware. What’s more, as learning through gaming has become a big thing these days, Pi-Top wants its consumers to take part in that trend. The makers state on their Indiegogo page that, “a gamified learning experience will take you to a stage where you are designing your own components and products”.

While the Pi-Top boasts versatility through its customisable design, whereby you can 3D-print your own 5″ x 5″ case, the product’s not just about the appearance. The makers want you to “learn how to make and control home automation devices, robots, and consumer electronics,” and they’ve also toured the UK, imparting their technological skills to UK pupils.


Comic Book Conventions

Join us for live demonstrations at BOTH Comic Book Conventions in October and November!

We’re proud to participate in these exciting events and preparations are already in full-swing.

Unleash the geek within at Malta 3D Printing’s stand – observe the 3D printing process first-hand and browse our products whilst benefiting from special offers too!

With not one, but two, comic book and pop culture conventions on the horizon, TEODOR RELJIC takes a peek into a burgeoning local subculture.
Autumn has apparently become the Season of the Geek in Malta, as not one but two comic book – and ‘pop culture’ – themed conventions are set to take place over the pre-Christmas period.

While the Malta Comic Con – taking place on 28 and 30 November – is now entering its sixth edition, it has suddenly found itself facing what could be a competing celebration of comic book, film and cartoon fandom: the ‘Malta Comics Expo’, debuting over the Halloween weekend this year and featuring The Hobbit, Game of Thrones and A-Team actors among its guests-cum-attractions.

That the Malta Comic Con – a consistently well-attended yearly attraction at St James Cavalier, Valletta – continues to attract high profile names in the field while catering to an ever-expanding audience of fans of all ages is not to be sniffed at, given Malta’s size.

So it’s even more surprising that a new ‘Con’ – of sorts – has arrived on the block.

But far from wanting to carve an entirely new niche for themselves, the organisers of the Malta Comics Expo – taking place on 31 October and 1 and 2 November at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta – are ambitious in their plans for the newly minted event.

“We don’t want to carve a niche. We’re looking to build a platform for all fans of comics and pop culture,” a spokesperson for the Expo said, adding that “unlike any existing events in Malta,” the organisers of the Expo did not limit themselves to “just one branch of the hobby nor restrict ourselves to a specific age bracket”.

Indeed, unlike the Malta Comic Con, which is organised by Wicked Comics, the Expo is placing film and television stars front-and-centre in its bid to attract a more wide-ranging audience. Among them will be A-Team star Dirk Benedict (aka ‘Faceman’ from the cult 80s TV show), former Dr Who Sylvester McCoy (more recently Radagast the Brown from The Hobbit) and Joseph Gatt – the London-raised, LA-based actor who, born to Maltese parents, subsequently went on to appear in Thor (2009) and shows like Banshee and, more recently, Game of Thrones.

“We hope that the fans will enjoy the opportunity to meet their favourite stars and artists. That we give the attendees value for money,” the spokesperson said, adding that the Expo also hopes to exploit an entrepreneurial angle to local fandom.

“We are targeting enthusiasts and stakeholders. Malta has a large fanbase and has also proven in the past to be popular with video game companies and film producers as a popular destination. We want to help promote Malta as an ideal destination for these industries to work in.”

A spokesperson for Malta Comic Con said that, “the organisation of a similar event by third parties does in part reflect the growth experienced in the local comic scene, and may perhaps even offer a valid contribution towards it. Ultimately it all depends on the quality of the event in question”.

They however added that the timing of the event is somewhat unfortunate, owing to the fact that from a marketing perspective, the events appear to be catering to similar audiences and interests, which “may lead to some confusion”.

Starting off as a relatively modest showcase of comic books and related fandom in 2009 (though it did boast one star guest, V for Vendetta’s David Lloyd), the organisers of the Comic Con are proud of how far the Con has come.

Significantly, the Con has served to not only provide local comic book fans with an opportunity to meet some of their favourite creators, but also as an incubator of local talent – among them Daniela ‘Iella’ Attard, an artist currently working for Cartoon Network’s European Branch, and Stefan Agius, who is doing colouring work for British publisher Wizard’s Keep.

London-based comic book podcaster Chris Thompson – who has visited every single edition of the Malta Comic Con barring its first – finds this aspect of the Con refreshing.

As host of the Orbital Comics and Pop Culture Hound podcasts, Thompson has interviewed a number of luminaries in the field and been a veteran of the largest international Cons.

“The Malta Comic Con is unique, and I like it. There’s nothing else quite like it, nor should there be. There are similar cons like NICE in the UK and DICE in Ireland, which value a more intimate setting for both creators and fans, but the setting in Malta makes it a real destination,” Thompson told MaltaToday, adding that “there’s a genuine innocence and appreciation there which other places sometimes lack”.

Though the meteoric rise of superhero blockbuster films over the past few years may have helped to galvanize the comic book industry across the globe, it has also smothered comic book conventions around the world, with movies taking precedence over comics.

According to Thompson, this is far from the case with the Malta Comic Con.

“It’s not a show that’s been diluted by celebrity and cheap tie-ins – it’s a genuine comic con, which is something I appreciate most of all.”

Having visited consecutive editions of the Con, Thompson is heartened to observe what seems to be a burgeoning culture of Maltese comic book creators, as well as fans.

“To meet someone at one con, and then have them turn up with their own comic at the next show is beyond exciting… I live for that stuff, and it energises me,” Thompson says.

“Even if their stuff isn’t yet that accomplished, it’s the gumption to have a go and take part which inspires me. Plus, practice makes perfect, and I’ve seen such incredible growth. This is due in no small part to the organisers of Malta Comic Con, and I just hope the local community recognises and understands this.”

by Teodor Reljic | 8 October 2014, 8:13am