3D-Printed Bike Reduces Design Time to Days

July 30, 2018
3D-Printed Bike Reduces Design Time to Days

A start-up company called Arevo is pioneering an environmentally friendly 3D printing process.

3D printing with carbon fiber has not produced a recyclable product…until now. Arevo’s new process incorporates thermoplastic with carbon to make the process and printed product recyclable.

Currently, Arevo is using the new process to print bikes.  The company has designed software that can be used to test the design before printing which further saves energy, materials and time.  The result is that the typical time frame for designing a new bike can be reduced from 18 months to 18 days.

Video spotlight: An Arevo printed bike in action

This post is based on the Fast Company article, Now you can 3D print an entire bike frame, by Adele Peters, July 12, 2018, and the YouTube video, Arevo 3D printing demonstration with bike prototype, by Robotics Business Review, July 12, 2018. Image source: Tomacco/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How could Arevo’s 3D printer change the current bike supply chain?

Guidance: The current supply chain involves mainly manufacturing bikes in China and subsequent distribution globally.  Students should be asked to draw the current supply chain, e.g. suppliers sending materials to China, manufacturing sites in China, and distribution centers globally.  This should be a rather simplified model without details.  Next, ask students to envision a new supply chain model if the Arevo 3D printer were to be deployed by various bike shops.  How does this change the current global bike manufacturing supply chain?  Students should readily see that local manufacturing can be more responsive and reduce the distribution distances.

2. Arevo’s 3D printer utilizes software such that an individual bike can be designed economically for a single customer’s preferences. What new processes may be needed to help an individual choose an appropriate new bike design?

Guidance: Ask students how they would choose a particular bike today.  How do they know which features fit their preferences?  Then, ask students to envision choosing a bike’s features sight unseen except for a description on the interface of the software application that allow for choice (as described by the article).  Finally, ask students to describe new processes that will be needed to help customers choose features for a customized bike to be made by the 3D printer.

3. How could Arevo’s 3D printer impact quality?

Guidance: Students should consider that traditional quality testing is not possible for a customized bike.  Ask students to develop processes to assure quality of the new bike before it is printed.  This is a harder question to consider for most students and will likely require the instructor to review the larger issues of brand image (if quality is not what the customer thought), how to handle warranties, and maintenance of the new bike.


Leave a Reply

Notify of