At 12:30 the fair started and immediately there were a lot of interested people at our stand. Most of the people were very enthusiastic about the bike and wanted to know everything about our project. We got a lot of questions about what material we used to print our bicycle and what kind of printer we used. When we said we used stainless steel most of the people laughed because they thought it’s going to be a very heavy bike but after they heard it was “only” 12 kilos they were amazed.
Also a journalist from “het AD” came to us for an interview and some photos to put in the newspaper. After two and a half hours of positive reactions the science fair was over. Although we did not managed to get the bicycle finished before the science fair we will be working on it the next weeks and hopefully the bike will be finished by the end of November.
We are still working on printing the bicycle. At the moment we are halfway done and the results are looking very promising. We cant wait to assemble and ride it. Because we are past the official project timespan, it is getting time for an evaluation. First of all, we feel very privilaged to get the chance to work on this project. It has been a very learnful and inspiring proces.
Because the project only took 4 weeks, we had to make very quick design decicions. The multidiciplinary character of the team made it in the beginning hard to communicate our ideas and therefor make decisions. Later on, when we got further in the details of the design, we noticed the benefits of having different knowledge areas.
The project brief was very open. Therefor we choose to aim high and build a bicycle, even though we didn’t knew if this was possible from the MX3D side. As an point of improvement, it would be good to state clearer at what level there will be collaboration and what kind of limitations we have.
It would also be better to have more meetings to check the printability of the design. Unfortunately this was not possible because the guys at MX3D were busy with the opening of their location. But it could have smoothened the proces and reduce the time it took them to fix the file.
In the proces of designing and printing this bicycle we have learned a lot. We got to know how big startup companies work, how important scripting and encoding is in modern technologies, a lot about welding techniques, presenting ideas (to the press) and working in an multidiciplinary team.
We had lots of fun doing this project, now let’s make this bicycle happen!
Saturday morning we arrived at NDSM to get an early start on printing and to help set up for the open day. The team was optimistic about Friday’s progress and we were pleased to have extra time to print as a demonstration for visitors. We were able to set up two robots to be printing for a brief time before we encountered some issues with the second robot shifting in place. NDSM and MX3D were open to the public from 12 am to 6 pm so there were a lot of visitors during the day who were very interested in our project and the process. For safety the printing was totally enclosed in dark welding curtains to protect the visitor’s eyes. We managed to stick a poster of renders of the bike to one of the welding curtains so that people could at least see what we were printing even if it was not possible for them to watch the printing itself.
Later that evening MX3D had organised more extensive tours of the operations for people who had registered via their website. The tours involved a presentation by one of the MX3D founders about the company and its origins as well as an explanation of the printing process with some of the engineers. The tour ended with a well choreographed performance of the large robot showing a sneak preview of the bridge and a brief Q&A with the audience. The tours concluded at 9pm which gave us an opportunity to make up for lost time for earlier that week. We were able to finish the first piece of the frame and start the second – although we are doubtful about having the full bike completed by the science fair. This is a bit disappointing but everyone is enthusiastic about finishing the project even if its a week or two behind schedule.
After nearly a week of tests, troubleshooting, experimentation and failed simulations – late on Friday night we were able to print the first pieces of the frame. The robot was running smoothly, connecting with the welding targets and soon we could see the head tube slowly rising from the printing plate. It was very exciting progress and good for team moral. Although now behind scheduled we were optimistic about the completion of the frame.
Some of the initial runs of the first print have stalled due to some issues with how MX3D’s algorithms deals with our geometry. We are monitoring the robot closely during the first stage to allow the printing process to proceed as smoothly as possible. Working closely with the engineers we have been running some experiments, incrementally increasing or changing different parameters to find the optimal settings for the bike frame geometry. We hope that be spending more time tweaking certain settings will allow for faster and better quality prints.
We were very optimistic in thinking that we would start printing on Monday. We have spent most of this week fixing minor details of the design, such as deleting too short splines (up to 1cm). The guys at MX3D have been experimenting and troubleshooting new printing algorithms. Altogether it’s proving to be a tough job to get done in such a short amount of time. But we remain optimistic and hopeful that we will have a bicycle eventually!
In the meantime we have been thinking about how we could make a time-lapse of the printing process.
That morning we rode to Amsterdam in style: Sjoerd took us in his old-timer campervan. We arrived at NDSM where Jouke and Joost were assembling the CNC-milled tables that had just been printed the day before. We helped out the MX3D team by cleaning up, setting up and prepping our ‘stand’ where we showed some renders of the bike and had some printed models of the shape of the frame.
The opening speeches were given by: Tim from MX3D, Joris Laarman, Bert van der Elst (CEO Heijmans) and a representative from the city council of Amsterdam.
In the main hall the big robot arm had 2 flat screens attached to it and the smaller robot was set up with a pair of golden scissors. When the big red button was hit, the robot arm holding the scissor cut a ribbon, which caused a big banner to roll down. This in turn revealed the location where the 3D welded bridge will be located.
A lot of the visitors at the opening showed curiosity about our bicycle design. Our stand was very crowded and it was very encouraging to see how interested people were. Not only because it was probably cool to see that this technology can also be used to build mobile objects (in contrary to a bench or bridge), but people found the design very striking.