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Grow Your Own Bike? Yes, Please

EADS, the aerospace giant that brought you the A380, is setting its sights a little smaller and using nylon to get people on their bikes.

“EADS has unveiled the world’s first bike that uses a revolutionary new manufacturing process which demonstrates the potential to transform manufacturing around the globe,” claims the press release.

OK, sounds good. Must be better than the BMX I had as a kid.

“Known as the ‘Airbike,’ it is a bike with a difference. Made of nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminium, it requires no conventional maintenance or assembly,” the company said.

I like the sound of that, given I am no good fixing a flat or with an Allan key.

“It is ‘grown’ from powder, allowing complete sections to be built as one piece; the wheels, bearings and axle being incorporated within the ‘growing’ process and built at the same time.”

Wow, this is getting interesting. Sounds like 3D printing, which I have read will transform the manufacturing process.

“The Airbike can be built to rider specification so requires no adjustment. The revolutionary manufacturing process is known as Additive Layer Manufacturing and it allows single products to be grown from a fine powder of metal nylon or carbon-reinforced plastics.”

But where can I buy one of these things?

“While the Airbike is only a technology demonstrator at this stage, EADS has developed the technology to the extent that it can manipulate metals, nylon, and carbon-reinforced plastics at a molecular level which allows it to be applied to high-stress, safety critical aviation uses.”

Come on guys, I really want one. Now.

“The possibilities with ALM are huge – it's a game-changing technology. The beauty is that complex designs do not cost any extra to produce. The laser can draw any shape you like,” said the engineer responsible for the "game changing technology" that his boss is calling a paradigm shift.

But when can I get the bike? The EADS PR said this is not going on sale and would cost several thousand pounds if it did.

But expect the technology to be a massive cost saver for aerospace and other industries over the long term.

“Whilst there are currently limitations in terms of the maximum component size achievable and the costs involved, the technology is developing fast.

There is growing recognition of the potential ramifications of ALM and the barriers to delivering this technology on a global scale are falling rapidly.”

Looks like I could be waiting a long time.

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