The first 100% Limburg Bike will be presented at the Innovation Hub of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders Belgium at the end of September.
Richard Janssen, Business Development Manager Additive Manufacturing at Brightlands Materials Center is proud of the 100% Limburg Bike’s performance. We replaced the metal lugs (connectors) with composites. Thanks to a new method, we were able to print 3D parts which are both lightweight and strong as well as precisely custom-made for the user of the bicycle. We will be able to develop this method for other applications, for example in cars and airplanes, thanks to the knowledge gained from this project. We aim to work towards this goal in the coming years.
Could you tell us some more about the 100% Limburg Bike project?
Thanks to the application of a number of innovations, this project is developing a personalized, custom-made, and above all, safe frame. Each individual innovation has massive potential in other production industries, such as the safety and security, the aviation, the space travel, and the car and motorsport sectors. This project ensures that the techniques which are being developed as part of this project can also be introduced in these other markets. The bicycle is unique and is made-to-order in its entirety. ‘The 100% Limburg Bike is precisely custom-made’, says Bram Tankink – former professional cyclist and involved party in the project. ‘The angles and lengths of the tubes comprising the bicycle frame are variable, ensuring you are situated perfectly on your bicycle. In a sense, the bicycle is adapted to your posture and height. This means that a unique set of connectors (lugs) are needed for each bicycle. This requires manufacturing technology which can also produce smaller series of items quickly and in a cost-effective way. Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing is the perfect answer to this.
Why did you participate in this project?
This project represents a unique opportunity for continuous fiber additive manufacturing – the new technology that we are developing at Brightlands Materials Center. This technology allows us to create products or components which are both very strong (because of the continuous fiber) and extremely lightweight as the fiber-strengthened thermoplastic polymers that we use are much lighter than the amount/volume of metal required to achieve similar results. This fiber AM-technology is also expected to help reduce CO2 emissions of the mobility industry as well as increase the range of electric vehicles.
What can you do with this knowledge?
The 100% Limburg Bike project offers us a first challenge in relation to the demands or mechanical requirements which continuous fiber AM-technology needs to meet. This concerns the development of material systems which contain enough fibers, can be printed well enough, and achieves the mechanical strength of the final product. The next step will be further developing the technology and materials for concrete products for the mobility industry, such as structural components in airplanes or electric cars.
What do you want to tell the market? Why is additive manufacturing so important?
Continuous fiber AM represents a new technology for the production industry which offers three significant advantages: (1) enormous freedom of form, meaning that complex shapes can be made from lightweight composite materials which can currently only be made from metal, resulting in reduction of material use, (2) cost-effective production as it is possible to make smaller series of products and molds are not required, and (3) local on-demand production meaning that savings can be made on logistics and transport.
What is your view of the future of continuous fiber additive manufacturing?
A number of steps need to be made with regard to the development of continuous fiber AM-technology. This includes materials and process development, simulation of the characteristics of the products to be printed to determine the optimal form and strengths and, lastly, certification processes to guarantee that the manufactured products meet the quality requirements. With the 100% Limburg Bike project, we have taken a major step forward in these developments and we have shown the mobility industry what can be achieved with continuous fiber AM-technology.