Now if you are anything like me, you couldn't help but think that the bicycle made with the 3D printer in this video was a bit lacking somehow. Wobbly and fragile, it looked as if it would fall apart with the slightest tension, never mind how it would hold up in an accident.
But of course, this was only a prototype. The designers were merely experimenting after all, and the real achievement was that they could make something that held up and that someone could ride around the yard.
What About Safety?
Will a 3D printer model hold up to safety standards? If they are made for children, will they withstand the bang-ups that most kids' bikes have to take as the child learns how to ride? And what about racing bikes or mountain bikes -- will the 3D process make bikes that will hold up under tough conditions?
These were some of my initial questions. In looking at the designer's website, however, I read that far from being more flimsy than a traditional bike, the 3D printer version, called the "Airbike," is strong enough to replace steel or aluminum, and requires no maintenance or assembly, as several of its parts are made as one unit. It can also be made to order to accommodate special requirements, such as the rider's height, etc., and so needs no adjustment after the fact.
As far as safety goes, this same process has been used for aviation purposes and so is appropriate for high stress areas.
And so most of my concerns have been answered by what I've read on the subject.
If we have to have new bikes, making them in a way that minimizes waste and carbon emissions is a positive development.