If you could make a 3D printed car, surely a bicycle couldn’t be much harder? Interestingly, it hasn’t been attempted, at least to the level that Industrial Design students Paul De Meeiros and Stef De Groot want to to take it. OBI 0.5 is the prototype phase, but the aim is simple, a modular, open-source bike, with parts that can easily be printed or bought online and suited to meet your needs.
The OBI 0.5 (not to be confused with the Open Bike Initiative, open-source bike share), was born out of an interest to take 3D printing beyond gimmicks and toys downloaded from the internet, getting back to the heart of 3D printing, that of functionality and open-source ingenuity. Now, with two awards in their pocket (TEDxYouth StartUp day and EBF Startup competition), the duo have developed the first functional prototype and are moving on toward version 1.0 of their build.
Paul and Stef are using a custom built 3D printer to print and Autodesk Fusion 360 to design the bicycle and printed parts. The construction for the first prototype uses aluminum t-slot extrusion for the frame, and 3D printed parts for the lugs and gears. Using a belt-drive as opposed to a chain drive makes 3D printing more practical for creating the gear.
The ultimate goal is to allow anyone to build the bicycle for €400 EUR ($460 USD). Even though that may not sound like the cheapest build (after buying/sourcing an appropriate 3D printer and the parts), the concept that it could be re-purposed or customized to suit your needs is where the additional value comes in, oh, and being able to say you built your own bike.
Paul explains that they opted to go the DIY 3D Printed bike route, because more often than not, people tend to outgrow the novelty of home printing after their first couple of batches of action figures and home tools. To keep the momentum, a functional bike is the next big step and a viable concept. Of course, their passion for biking adds to the intent.
Though passionate, they’re not disillusioned by the thought of the OBI replacing specialty bikes or even every-day-use bikes. However, I think they’re onto something, particularly for those just starting to ride–our children. Often, a bicycle is too small or too large for a child, forcing training wheel use. A bike that grows along with them is a compelling proposal–replace or trim a set of extrusion, done. Still, anyone think it a bit pricey?
If you’re interested to see if the project will take off (or cost drop), you can keep tabs or contact them to learn more at thebikeproject.nl.