Students from the Netherlands Delft University of Technology have teamed up with 3D printing startup MX3D to create a fully functioning bicycle from stainless steel, but the process of creating may be more impressive than the beautiful bike.

MX3D uses robot arm-mounted welding machines (typical in manufacturing) to create 3D printers. The process is ingenious: the robots spot-weld just as a “regular” 3D printer would print layers. Each “spot” is welded onto the other, creating a print that is both strong and doesn’t require support structures.

Check out the video below to see the printer in action, as well as a brave volunteer straddling the print and cycling through cobbled roads.

The students who created the design explained that a bicycle was decided on to test out medium-to-larger prints as well as the strength of the final result, given the complex forces applied to a bike frame. This project also forms part of the university’s research for the 3D Building FieldLab.

What’s next for this interesting form of printing? MX3D wants to 3D print a steel bridge in Amsterdam for people to cross. It’s such an ambitious project that even their description page reads “Yes, really”.

And it won’t be any old “plank across a puddle”, either: the bridge will also take on the intricate “spider-web” pattern seen on the bicycle, a process that may have been achieved by a Voroni algorithm.

[Source – Core77]