Designers Take a Spin on Customizing Bikes with 3D Printing

Change the seat or swap out the frame, designing custom bicycles is about to get a whole lot easier.

Cycling enthusiasts can be super picky about their bike set-ups. Off-the-shelf seats or standard issue parts are rarely good enough. Instead, cyclists often carefully choose piece after piece of equipment until they finally have the one-of-a-kind bike of their dreams––and a lot of pain on the wallet.

But this soon may change. Finding a "made for me" bicycle could get a whole lot easier thanks to researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, who have been experimenting with using modular design and 3D printing to manufacture highly customizable bikes. Although their invention, called the Modefi, is not yet ready for prime time, it promises a new level of design freedom: The bike is made of multiple frame pieces that can be easily swapped out. When a part is damaged or needs adjustment, it can be fixed without repairing the entire bike. And as a user's needs and preferences change, aesthetic features and functionality can adjust. 

“3D printing allows a level of customization that traditional manufacturing methods can not support due to high tooling costs,” notes one of the designers in an article featured in Digital Trends.