Arevo Inc, a Silicon Valley startup with backing from the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency has produced what it says is the world’s first carbon fiber bicycle with a 3-D printed frame.
Typically, carbon fiber bikes are expensive to make because it requires laying individual layers of carbon fiber impregnated with resin around a mold of the bike’s frame by hand. The frame then gets baked in an oven to melt the resin and bind the carbon fiber sheets together.
However, Arevo’s technology combines 3-D printing with web-based software and customized raw materials. It uses a “deposition head” mounted on a robotic arm to print out the three-dimensional shape of the bicycle frame. In just one step, the head lays down strands of carbon fiber and melts a thermoplastic material to bind the strands. The streamlined process, which requires almost no human labor, allows Arevo to build bicycle frames for just $300.
“AREVO’s approach is a significant leap forward as it is truly 3D printing rather than stacked 2D printing, which is what most of us are accustomed to,” said Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures. “AREVO is the company that can finally move 3D printing beyond novelty applications and into a mainstream manufacturing necessity with its unique nexus of software, robotics, and composite materials.”
Arevo is using the bike to demonstrate the potential of the technology, which it hopes could one day be used to produce parts for all applications where designers want to make carbon fiber parts but are hesitant due to the high cost and labor-intensive process of making them.
The company has already raised a significant amount of capital to continue developing the technology. Just last week, the company raised $12.5 million Series B financing round from a unit of Japan’s Asahi Glass Co Ltd, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, Leslie Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
“AREVO is at an exciting inflection point in its business right now,” said Arevo’s newly appointed CEO, Jim Miller. “We have the technology, team and tools to commercialize our software and fabrication process to build high strength parts that the manufacturing industry hasn’t been able to conceive and construct before.”