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Monday, March 7, 2011

The Perfect Bike For A Great Pair Of L'eggs!!!

For a design that is well over 100 years old, we sure hear a lot about making it better. Taipei Cycle is just weeks away and bicycle designers already have a whole slew of new technologies and concepts they would like to showcase.

For a while now, bike makers and their marketing departments have been selling us on new materials to make us better cyclists. We have heard plenty about the weight of steel, the harshness of aluminum, the expense of titanium, and the brittleness of carbon fiber. Then there are the fringe materials like magnesium, bamboo and various alloying elements.

The fact of the matter is, they can all be used effectively to make fantastic bikes with some amazing abilities. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses. They each have certain design limitations specific to the material. There is no magic material, no matter how much the marketers would like to lead us to believe it is true.

Now, from the land of Harry Potter magic, comes an amazing new frame material developed by Du Pont in 1935.... Nylon!

Engineers in the UK have designed a new manufacturing process using powdered materials, using it to “grow” a weird ivory-colored bicycle made of nylon. They say it is as strong as steel. The designers hope the growth process, a type of 3-D laser printing, could revolutionize manufacturing, according to the BBC.

The process is called Additive Layer Manufacturing, and it works somewhat like a 3-D printer. Guided by a computer-aided design program, a laser fuses together several layers of finely powdered metal, nylon or plastic. The laser melts the powder, which solidifies according to a chosen pattern. Then more powder is added, melting and solidifying to add layer upon layer until the object is fully formed.

Being able to employ 3-D printing technology to create bike frames could do a lot to reduce costs and allow for unlimited forms of customization.

But will it be laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant?