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3D printed titanium frames. WUT.
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Peter Teschner just announced on Facebook he's joining Titomic a company that has the technology...

"The news is that I have joined Titomic Ltd an additive manufacturing company in Melbourne as GM of their bicycle division. Titomic has patented a process of cold spraying titanium powder at 1000m a second. They are currently setting up a production line to manufacture monocoque titanium frames. The process only takes 30 minutes. Yes that is correct. A bicycle rim in 3 minutes. Of course you will ask about weight..... targeting under 600 grams for the frame. I commence on 5th Feb 18. Pricing is estimated to be competitive with carbon fibre."
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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Holy crap, that would be a game changer in terms of production time. I guess it will depend on build quality/error rate in the printing.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [turtleherder] [ In reply to ]
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Yup. Trying to imagine what a titanium rim would be like...
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
Pricing is estimated to be competitive with carbon fibre.

Skeptical, here, based on what I know about the printing costs of just really high-quality thermoplastics.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
Pricing is estimated to be competitive with carbon fibre.


Skeptical, here, based on what I know about the printing costs of just really high-quality thermoplastics.

Sure, but IF they can do it... that's a game changer.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
Pricing is estimated to be competitive with carbon fibre.

Skeptical, here, based on what I know about the printing costs of just really high-quality thermoplastics.

I am sure it will be pretty expensive, given that the MOST custom bars on Sky's TT bike are something like 10-15,000$. Nevertheless, my prediction is that additive manufacturing becomes something like the microprocessor/solar panel industry. In 10 years the idea of spending 10-20 man-hours placing strips of gooey carbon into a mold will seem pretty silly.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [grumpier.mike] [ In reply to ]
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grumpier.mike wrote:
trail wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
Pricing is estimated to be competitive with carbon fibre.


Skeptical, here, based on what I know about the printing costs of just really high-quality thermoplastics.


I am sure it will be pretty expensive, given that the MOST custom bars on Sky's TT bike are something like 10-15,000$. Nevertheless, my prediction is that additive manufacturing becomes something like the microprocessor/solar panel industry. In 10 years the idea of spending 10-20 man-hours placing strips of gooey carbon into a mold will seem pretty silly.


The rate of additive production he is talking about is orders of magnitude faster than the machines used to produce the SKY bars. In this industry the machine is the expense, the titanium powder and the electricity cost money, but the biggest cost is the upfront machine cost. So that cost is amortized over the expected lifetime of the machine....and broken down into machine hours. Assuming (big assumption here) that the new machine costs the same as the old machine...being able to print something 10 times faster means that it will be 10 times less expensive. If this is only half true it would be a breakthrough for all sorts of industries.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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They raised money via a penny stock IPO; that should be a major red flag on its own.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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As others have said, if Titomic's claims are true they'll revolutionize a lot more than just the bike industry.

WTB: TriRig Omega SV (not x). PM me if you have one :)
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [GreenPlease] [ In reply to ]
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They seem to be saying that they've signed a 6 month deal with Trek to explore the possibilities. Interesting.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not sure if this is the same thing, but I think it is?


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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [altayloraus] [ In reply to ]
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The titanium frame that they showed off took ~20 minutes to print. I see no reason why different tube shapes would affect that at all other than a change in the total amount of material deposited. The material cost for a frame weighing 600 grams is a lot less than you'd think. Certainly within the same order of magnitude of the cost of carbon fiber used for a frame. The greatest cost, by far, will be amortizing the cost of the machine. Per unit labor costs plummet relative to carbon fiber.

I'd imagine that a manufacturing technology like this would be very appealing to a company like Trek. Locating a factory with a few of those machines within the U.S. would allow them to lower the amount of inventory needed for that market.

WTB: TriRig Omega SV (not x). PM me if you have one :)
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [GreenPlease] [ In reply to ]
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GreenPlease wrote:
I'd imagine that a manufacturing technology like this would be very appealing to a company like Trek. Locating a factory with a few of those machines within the U.S. would allow them to lower the amount of inventory needed for that market.

Their website quotes a favourable compressive yield strength, but not anything about tensile strength or other properties you'd normally associate with a metal.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [Big Endian] [ In reply to ]
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Powder metal is great in compression but terrible in tension and shear. I seriously doubt that this technology is ready. If it were, they sure as hell wouldn't be using it on bike frames. Additionally, there's a reason additive manufacturing isn't really used for anything structural, just pretty things. Sky's aerobars are one thing, a bike frame is another entirely.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [imswimmer328] [ In reply to ]
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I work in 3d printing. I run a research lab for 3D printing in a university.

That cold spray tech is not new. GE first publicised it in 2013, so you can bet they were researching it at least 5 years earlier. It's already being used for some stuff in offshore and marine sectors.

The aussies are doing some great work in this tech. Titomic is one company. Spee3D is another. In fact we have been evaluating a Spee3D. in fact we suspect Xjet uses some variant of this tech as well, but no one knows since Xjet is quite tight lipped about what exaclty they are doing.

Is it a game changing tech? well... for some industries. I don't really think there's much use in the bike industry. Ti bike sales are tiny- so its a small market. It's much cheaper than traditional SLM metal printing, and it is fast- but theres a tradeoff in tolerances and finishing. You probably aren't going to use cold spray tech in a precision engineered part with a specific surface roughness. Plus, the finishing isn't great without post processing. I'm not so sure about the claims of faster production times- add back that post processing time and you might end up a wash. there may be advantages if you're making complex Ti shapes- say an aero Ti bike- but that would be really heavy.

Personally, people overestimate 3D printing- its not magic- but they underestimate what 3D printing can do as well. I'd ride that bike.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [davidalone] [ In reply to ]
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Let's set aside the current market for Ti bikes. Could this tech not theoretically lower production costs by reducing labor costs and locating manufacturing closer to demand centers (with all of the follow on benefits of lower inventory overhead, etc.)?

WTB: TriRig Omega SV (not x). PM me if you have one :)
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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Throw some microfibers in the liquid and you could have some strong stuff. I saw a demo years ago where a company was selling fibers you could dump into a concrete pour and then the road or bridge wouldn't need rebar anymore.


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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [GreenPlease] [ In reply to ]
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Reducing labour cost- not by much. you wouldn't need 10 workers to layup carbon, or a couple of really good welders to weld a Ti frame, but you'd need some smart technicians and engineers who are familiar with this sort of tech- and generally these guys have a new, desirable skill- so they wouldn't exactly be cheap. you'd still need some extra people to work with CNC and post processing.

Reducing inventory- debatable.instead of storing rolls and rolls of carbon fiber, or Ti tubing, you'd instead be storing whatever raw material the printer is using, so that's a wash. Storing Ti powder is no fun ( it's explosive) .This would be a big win for someone offering custom geometry like Seven- you could print a frame, on demand, in minutes rather than weld and cut it in days, and you wouldn't need a huge inventory of different types of tubing, or lugs,. But for a big manufacturer like Trek, Specialized- you want to be keeping stock, because your demand is huge anyway, and this still probably loses out to mass production of CF frames in terms of speed. if demand for Ti goes up, and you can print a Ti frame in 20 minutes- that would be a win, for sure.

lowering transport costs by distributing manufacturing- yes, some potential. the manufacturing of the future for some things will be decentralised. you'd send one digital file to a manufacturing site in say, germany, taiwan, USA, and they would print the bike for you. no need to go to one place and then distribute from there- PROVIDED you can overcome the problem of digital rights management and managing QA across different sites. your lower transport costs would also have to be offset by starting and mantaining 3 different factories- but hey, if you subcontract it out to some 3D printing service beaureau, why not?

Some other benefits- lower costs of manufacturing in the long run ( no molds to wear out, less wastage of material). mantaining support for obsolete parts would be very possible as well. say you needed a specific lug for an older model frame to affect a repair- if theres no inventory you're sunk. with this someone could print it for you in an hour with a digital inventory.

There certainly can be benefits and costs savings, but the devil is in the details. execution counts.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [ZenTriBrett] [ In reply to ]
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Wouldn't be applicable to this technology I'm afraid. fibers don't do cold spraying.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [davidalone] [ In reply to ]
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I have no idea how the industry would develop, but it seems to me that a likely future has companies that jut do additive manufacturing. You design your frame in something like SolidWorks, specify the material and email your file to the production company. They print 1 or 1000 compies and ship them back to you.

It is not like anyone in the bike biz makes their own alloys and only Giant and Time makes their own weave. It is kinda like most computer companies pretty much just order parts from Intel/AMD/ARM. I guess My future vision is sort of like Kinkos.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [davidalone] [ In reply to ]
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Additive Manufacturing has been around a long time. I've done extensive inspections on the processes before and one thing that's ignored is the presence of voids and delaminations. They're much more prevalent and are rarely inspected for. Killer pores and delams can lead to extensive structural failures - even with post heat treatment.

A company I used to deal with was putting major $$$ into AM/3D research. Funded a lot of research proposals but ignored any one that covered inspection techniques. I believe that inspection would have shown up the large number of flaws and just ruined the story they were trying to tell.

I've lost count of the number of presentations I've seen where an engineer shows the shiny new parts he's printed and extols the virtues of 3D printing to solve quality and supply problems.

I'll usually ask about structural strength measurements.

Reply: We haven't tested that yet but no reason to believe it won't be as good as current parts.

me: What's the density?

Reply: Uh, theoretical density is 98%
me: Have you measured it?

Reply: "That's proprietary" or "That's what our suppliers tell us" (Bear in mind that porosity can lead to a corresponding ^3 or^4 reduction in strength properties)

Me: Have you inspected for defects?

Reply: "Uh, No. DOn't believe we need to". Then usually puts on a frowny face and boss will indicate to me to shut up.

Unsurprisingly, I have yet to see any of these proposed parts become available for anything other than cosmetic purposes. Several parts will fail spectacularly in final testing and the projects quietly abandoned.

So I'm a bit skeptical. Not going to rule out the potential but will require a lot more work, inspection and post-manufacturing treatment and not sure that it will be cheaper than current production methods.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [carlosflanders] [ In reply to ]
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I think automated carbon layup will beat additive Ti.


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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [grumpier.mike] [ In reply to ]
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That's the dream. Unfortunately 3d printing is a little more complex than that, particularly when you come to using the more complicated industrial level machines. Not so simple as 'load in file, press print.'

What orientation you print the product in, where you print it on your print bed, the laser/uv/thermal power used, where you place the support structures- this all plays a part in the strength, finish, and other factors of the end product. Heck, in some machines even humidity and ambient temperature will matter. Especially because specifying such parameters usually has an implication on the total available volume available for print- an important factor for service beaureaus. Unless you can be sure the service beaureau you are using is complying with all of your specifications here, your product quality is going to vary quite a bit.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [carlosflanders] [ In reply to ]
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One of the benefits of working at a university lab is we arent kitted out for production. So we get to test, test, and test without having to think of speed or volume.

We have reliable test data on 3d printed coupons in various materials tested to ASTM standards, and porosity data for some metals. I can't share this unfortunately, but it will be out in public domain sooner or later.

The engineers are generally right, though. If you have an industrial grade machine- say an EOS, renishaw, concept laser and others- and you know what you are doing- those theoretical porosity figures are quite correct. Porosity testing is very expensive and time consuming- probably why it isn't done all that often. So far, from things we've tested, AM parts perform a little differently from things you make via other means- but if engineered properly aren't really all that different. The key thing here is knowing what you're actually doing.

AM will have scaling problems, but remember people with the necessary know-how in AM are still not particularly common.
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Re: 3D printed titanium frames. WUT. [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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Is there any indication on what geometry they will follow
A new design must be in the drawings and Titomic able to execute for a brand this big to sign them on
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