As 3D printers get ever more useful and cost-effective, the number of things you can actually produce with them is going to get even bigger.
What does that mean in real terms? Once you could mainly make vases. Now you can make bikes.
A bicycle frame which can be printed out of titanium and then fitted together in minutes has been unveiled after a collaboration between two design companies.
Renishaw, a UK company who make metal-based printers, worked with Empire Cycles to design a new bike based on the Empire MX-6.
Above: the pre-assembly frame
The new process means that the entire frame can be printed in a single piece, and then assembled relatively quickly.
The result is a bike which the companies say is both lighter and stronger than comparable models.
"The key benefit for Empire Cycles is the performance advantages that this construction method bestows. The design has all of the advantages of a pressed steel ‘monocoque' construction used in motorbikes and cars, without the investment in tooling that would be prohibitive for a small manufacturer.
The potential performance has not been completely explored yet, but we hope to continue to develop the project. As no tooling is required, continual design improvements can be made easily; and as the component cost is based on volume and not complexity, some very light parts will be possible at minimal costs."
Needless to say the bike isn't ready to buy just yet - it's going to go through a long testing period at Swansea university before its potential impact on manufacturing and sales is assessed.Suggest a correction