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Designing Folding Bicycles using 3D Printed Aluminum: an interview with Mark Walker

by • February 21, 2016 • No Comments

Mark testing his 3D printed aluminum parts in the field

Mark testing his 3D printed aluminum parts in the field

A month ago we launched our 3D printed Aluminum. Since and so we’ve seen a few amazing
products come into our factory. Here’s just one example.

Mark Walker of Montague Bikes has been via Shapeways for their their high high end full sized folding bikes. I spoke with Mark to discuss the advantages of 3D printing with Shapeways and how Montague Bikes via our aluminum to prototype their one-of-a-kind bicycles that
combine performance with compactness.

Can you tell us a little of Montague Bikes and your role in the company?

Montague is a medium sized bicycle turn it into and distribution company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Whilst a number of companies in our industry focus on selling commodity products, Montague focuses exclusively on products where we have turn it intod the innovation of the ground up and own the IP. My role is heading research and development, and a few in-the-field testing.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 5.28.19 PM

How has Shapeways helped you turn it into new prototypes for bikes?

Shapeways has been a immense value to us by shortening the lead time of concept to product testing. Before, it may take months to CNC difficult parts, frequently to find they did not fit the bill. Now, in a matter of days, Shapeways prints our parts initially in plastic – allowing us to rapidly
evaluate the form and fit of the concept. This alone is an amazingly
valuable step where we can evaluate human interaction much additional effectively than we may in traditional CAD/CAE environments. Once we feel effortless with this stage, we have Shapeways print in metal – usually just requiring a few weeks. Upon validating printed metal parts, depending on the project, we can frequently go straight to production, skipping CNC altogether.


What advantages do you see for via our new Aluminum?

Most of the high end bicycles and accessories sold in our industry are created
of aluminum. Having the ability to print in aluminum has been immense for the reason
it accelerates our path to production. It allows for us to test the function of new turn it intos without either the long lead time of traditional metal prototyping or the inherent weakness of 3D-printed plastic. In addition, in a few cases we’ve welded printed aluminum parts to existing bike frames, a fewthing you can’t do with other 3D-printed materials.


Do you have any recommendations or advice for turn it intoers who are new to via our Aluminum material?

I may recommend printing in plastic initially, that allows for for somewhat rapid iterations if the project warrants it. Once eager to print in metal, the really great thing of Shapeways aluminum is that
it is DMLS processed, that has enabled us to perform post machining (e.g. tapping threads) as well as welding – in order to evaluate the function of sure parts in the larger context of our bicycles.


The bikes Mark is developing appear amazing, and they’re just one of the products that
Shapeways helps bring to life day to day
. With the industrial durablity
and lightness of 3D printed aluminum the possibilities are endless. What can you turn it into and turn it into?

Photos courtesy of Mark Walker and Montague Bikes

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