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The Team That Will 3D Print a Bridge Applied the Same Treatment to a Bicycle

Here's something to think about: what would be your first 3D printed object if you ever had access to such a machine? That's the kind of question that can have you scratching your head for ages without finding an answer that feels good enough.
Arc Bicycle 9 photos
Photo: TU Delft & MX3D
The Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc BicycleThe Arc Bicycle
Regardless of what you will eventually settle on, it will probably be something stupid and completely useless. Don't worry, our guess is that the people at MX3D had their fair share of fooling around before they decided to switch to something more serious. But if 3D printing is usually associated with rather small objects, these people from Holland are thinking really, really big.

They plan to create the world's first 3D printed bridge that will span over one of Amsterdam's many canals. But to keep them busy while they get that ready, they employed the help of TU Delft (the Delft University of Technology) to come up with a bicycle frame built using the same technology that will go into making that bridge.

To be fair, "3D printing" is used a little too liberally here, as MX3D's technique involves a series of six-axis robotic arms that can add layers of metals or resins in mid-air in virtually any direction. With the robots mobile, the size of the "printed" object is limited only by the patience of those supervising the project.

Called the "Arc Bicycle," the fixed-gear bike is perfectly usable and can even withstand the shocks generated by riding on a cobbled street. At 44 pounds, it weighs considerably more than a regular bike of this type would, but beauty does require some sacrifices.

The team wanted to create something that people can relate to, and since this is Holland we're talking about, they probably didn't waste too much time brainstorming before settling on a bicycle. Stef de Groot, a member of the team involved, confirmed that while speaking to dezeen: "It was important for us to design a functional object that people use everyday. Being students in the Netherlands, a bicycle naturally came to mind. A bicycle frame is a good test for the technology because of the complex forces involved."

But MX3D's sights are firmly set on that eight-meter (26.2 foot) long bridge that it plans to have ready and installed by 2017. They intend to build the bridge in one piece at a remote location and have it installed over the canal once it's ready.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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