3D printing describes a number of new manufacturing techniques that build a part by adding raw material one layer at a time to the three dimensional design. One advantage of 3D printing is that it allows complex shapes and details (such as cable guides and internal bracing) that can’t be achieved by machining (removing material from a billet) or molding. Métier Vélo uses two 3D printing processes: one for plastic and one for titanium. Printers that make things in plastic are relatively inexpensive so Métier Vélo has its own; the machines that print in titantium are expensive, big, and complex, so for printing the final titanium parts I send the final designs out for production
In the shop, I use a MakerBot 2X to rapidly produce plastic prototypes. It prints in durable ABS plastic, so I also use the 2x to produce usable custom plastic parts. Once I have a final design, I send it to GPI Prototype for production in 6/4 titanium. There are important differences between printing in plastic and titanium, and GPI has been super-helpful in making sure Métier Vélo designs produce top-quality parts in titanium.
Below are a few photos to give you an idea of the process:
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