Urban Bike Relies on Component Produced through DMLS

A complex component that improves bike design and simplifies assembly is manufactured economically at low volumes via additive manufacturing.


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How can the design of a bicycle be improved to make it more useful for day-to-day urban transportation? According to a California bike design engineering team, part of the answer is greater modularity of accessories. Instead of being bolted on, components such as baskets, racks and a child’s seat ought to attach and detach quickly as they are needed. That is the idea behind the team’s new “Evo” bike.

Key to achieving this modularity is an intricate bike lug that includes the plug-and-play connection mechanism. If production volumes ever get high enough, then this complex part of the bike might be cast. For now, however, early versions of the lug have been made through additive manufacturing—direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), to be exact—by manufacturing supplier Proto Labs.

The lugs provide various advantages. In addition to incorporating the locking mechanism for accessories, they also simplify bike assembly by holding the frame’s steel tubes together without a need for an assembly jig and without the steel tubing having to be mitered for an angled weld. The lug provides the angle instead. These benefits are not unique to additive manufacturing, but additive manufacturing has allowed Evo’s team to prove out a design through various iterations and bring it into short-run production, all without cost or commitment yet for manufacturing tooling.

Read Proto Lab’s report on the Evo bike project.

(And see also this example of an entire frame made through additive manufacturing.)


Lugs at the front and the back of the bike frame simplify bike assembly, and more significantly, they also provide for the plug-and-play connection that enables the bike accessories to be swapped on and off as needed. The lugs are being made through additive manufacturing by Proto Labs.