According to Bicycling.com, the modern carbon-fiber bike is “a technological marvel” based on its superior strength over traditional metal bikes, at a fraction of the weight. So why isn’t everyone hopping on one of these top-notch bikes to pedal around town? Two reasons – the cost is insane and, say the experts at Bicycling.com, carbon-fiber can be a manufacturing nightmare.
Typical problems mostly relate to quality control, in a production environment that requires lots of labor and precision, which is why the Silicon Valley startup Arevo intends to upend the process with 3D printing.
The company has a prototype of the first 3D printed carbon-fiber bike, and Arevo hopes to propel the business into manufacturing ASAP. The intention is to partner with existing bike manufacturers and automate the production aspect using a robotic arm.
But what’s most interesting about the Arevo bike is that, when you look at this startup, there’s a lot more to it. Rather than a bikemaker dabbling in technology, Arevo appears to be more of a tech company dabbling in bikes.
The material applied to the 3D printing of the carbon-fiber bike is said to be a breakthrough. Changes in carbon-fiber filaments and resins, supported by proprietary software that analyzes structural parts, means the former pieces-in-a-mold approach is replaced by one that results in an end product that’s stronger and less prone to variability.
This breakthrough means that the process works for “everything from car parts to airplane wings,” so perhaps the bike is just a great starting point for this long-term experiment. Either way, Arevo has attracted financial backing from many interested parties, including In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA.