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Mirada Pro and Reynolds 3D-printed frame

James Spender
20 Jun 2016

Could this collaboration between Mirada Pro and Reynolds be the shape of things to come?

Three-dimensional printing has been in the mainstream for over a decade, with its origins traceable back to a patent filed by one Dr Kodama in Japan in 1980, and the first patent granted to American Charles ‘Chuck’ Hull for ‘stereolithography apparatus’ in 1986.

People have printed everything from chainmail to pieces of houses, but applications in cycling have been limited to small parts, such as Raceware’s 3D-printed Garmin mounts, or just plain novelty. That’s starting to change.

‘On the one hand, this frame is a showcase of our printing techniques and abilities, but on the other it presents very real possibilities,’ says Mirada Pro product engineer Iain McEwan. ‘Everything but the tubes has been 3D-printed out of 6/4 titanium powder, then welded by framebuilder Ted James to Reynolds 3/2.5 titanium tubing.

‘The shapes have been dictated by one of our computer programs. We took the standard loads a frame needs to endure to pass an EN safety test, inputted that into the program and told it to produce shapes that could support those loads but using a minimum amount of material. In other words, if you had a solid block of titanium for the head tube, say, you could remove all this material and still be left with a piece that could support the forces involved.’

McEwan says the frame hasn’t yet been built up and ridden, but given that Mirada Pro’s background is in aerospace and Formula One, it would be a brave person to bet against its calculations. As you read this, the frame is being sent off to an independent test lab, but in the meantime we can at least confirm one metric: this frame, a size medium, weighs 999g.

‘That was one of our goals – to get under that kilo,’ says McEwan. ‘It’s been done in titanium before, but those frames ceased production when they started to fail. Ours will be different!’

As yet there’s no official price, but Cyclist surmises that since the parts took 25 hours to print, and Mirada Pro says it charges around £75 an hour to use one of its printers, the cost would be around £1,875, plus tubes and framebuilder costs. Still, that’s a price that should come down over time.

‘The beauty of 3D printing is you can print multiple parts, all of them different within reason, at the same time. So although we took 25 hours over these parts, next time we could fit more onto the printer bed and produce more in the same amount of time.’

miradapro.com / reynoldstechnology.biz

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