3D printing must be one of the most exciting new technologies in the world right now, as the impact it can have on the future of manufacturing is massive. Not only does it make it a lot easier to reproduce components at home that could previously be quite specialised and expensive to create, but it can also build things in a manner that makes them even stronger than traditional manufacturing methods
This is what we’re seeing from cycling company Arevo, who have just announced the “world’s first” 3D-printed unibody electric bike as part of its newly created Superstrata brand. The new brand will include two models: The Superstrata Terra is a lightweight analogue that can be custom-built for a variety of riding styles, and the Superstrata Ion is a Class 1 e-bike with a rear-hub 250W motor, a 252Wh battery, and an estimated 90 kilometres of range.
According to the company, as detailed by The Verge, the frame is a unibody thermoplastic carbon fibre, manufactured as one single continuous piece, rather than welded together from a dozen or so pieces like most bike frames. Superstrata says the use of thermoplastic materials makes it extremely impact-resistant yet remarkably lightweight. The frame weight of the Terra is 1.27kg (depending on the size), while the Ion clocks in at 11kg.
The benefit to this design approach is that the frames themselves end up stronger because there are no joints, seams or anything that is connected together. What it gains in strength though, it lacks in the speed of production as each frame takes about 10 hours to create, with Arevo claiming that it can create up to 250,000 unique combinations. While they market themselves as the first 3D printed bike range, they actually aren’t the first to make 3D printed components for bikes. Still, it’s that differential which will be what separates them from the rest and what could be copied by many other manufacturers as the technology improves.
It might take a while to build, but the company doesn’t want that to affect the price. Arevo plans to start pricing at $2,799 (R48 000) for the Terra and $3,999 (R70 000) for the Ion. (Preorders can be had for $1,799.) Those can be seen as hefty prices, but if you consider that top of the range carbon fibre bikes are often more expensive than that, then those prices are pretty reasonable. The company has yet to reveal all the other components around wheels, brakes, engine and gears just yet, But is apparently negotiating with other companies for now and will likely announce details on that closer to the time of release.
Last Updated: July 15, 2020