In the cycling world, Australia-based company Bastion Cycles has been something of a beacon for additive manufacturing. Though not the first to 3D print bicycle parts, the company was one of the first to demonstrate how metal additive manufacturing could be used to produce functional components for commercial and customizable bike frames. Recently, the company took its AM production to the next level by bringing metal 3D printing in house.
Bastion Cycles was founded in 2014 by Ben Schultz, James Woolcock and Dean McGeary, three cycling aficionados with a passion for engineering and innovation. Together, they set out to build a premium bike frame which was not only made locally but also constructed using advanced manufacturing technologies and materials, such as titanium and carbon fiber.
The result of this was a high-performance road bike with a modular frame made of filament wound carbon fiber tubing and 3D printed titanium lugs. The 3D printed lugs, unique to Bastion Cycles, are characterized by their thin walls and internal structural lattice structure—both of which have contributed to the components’ extremely high stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Up until recently, Bastion Cycles relied on external (but still local) AM services to produce its titanium bike parts. For the first three years of operation, the company outsourced its production to RAM3D, a New Zealand-based AM bureau. There, the titanium components were produced using a Renishaw AM250 3D printer.
In response to a growing demand for its custom bicycle frames, Bastion Cycles eventually decided to bring metal AM in house, to streamline the production process. Wanting to maintain the same quality it enjoyed when it outsourced components, the bike manufacturer decided to purchase a Renishaw AM250 system.
“Additive manufacturing is the secret to the customization and performance of our bikes,” said Ben Schulz, Managing Director at Bastion Cycles. “With the help of Renishaw’s technology, we were the first company in the world to design, develop, test and market a commercially viable, high performance road bicycle using additive manufacturing, something that we are very proud of.
“We chose Renishaw to supply an AM system because of the support it could provide. Australia has a fairly small AM market and Renishaw is the only company with a local headquarters with dedicated staff that could get an engineer to our site in a few hours. That is a valuable service for a small business like us.”
The Bastion Cycles founders did shop around for a 3D printer, so to speak. According to them, they met with Mike Brown, General Manager at Renishaw Oceania, to learn more about and test the AM250, but they also tested three other metal AM systems from other suppliers. In addition to the quick support offered by Renishaw, the founders were drawn to the AM250 for its surface finish, material performance and mass customization capabilities.
“AM technology means we can design and manufacture parts that could not be produced using traditional bike manufacturing methods,” said Brown. “By using the AM system, Bastion Cycles is able to design, prototype and produce high-performance titanium lugs for its frames and meet the demand of its customers.”
To order a custom Bastion Cycles bike, customers can use the company’s online design tool to modify the frame structure and design. The online platform also enables clients to track and follow their bike’s production. Typically, a Bastion bike frame can produced and assembled in just four weeks, but due to high demand there can be longer waiting times. When the bike is ready, it is delivered along with a fully customized engineering report and a best-in-class crash and repair policy.