From virtual design to physical product. 3D printing allows bike makers to create bespoke or short-run products of incredible complexity without the set-up costs of more traditional methods. Relying on a computer-controlled machine working from a digital design, it's letting artisan frame builders push their craft even further.
"At Passoni Titanium we can use 3D printing to produce very complex shapes," explains Matteo. "These sorts of things wouldn't be possible working by hand or with instruments like a CNC machine".
When applied to titanium, 3D printing involves solidifying material, layer by layer, to build complex shapes. This is achieved by firing a laser onto a continuously replenished bed of powdered titanium. Known as powder bed fusion, the piece created emerges a section at a time before the excess material is poured away before being reused.
"Titanium is a very expensive material, and with this process, there is very little wastage," explains Matteo. At the same time, 3D printing remains a costly endeavour.
Investing where it's necessary, the dropouts on our Fidia are an example of our use of the technology. They contain the through axle fixings and the disc brake mount. Made by a firm located within five kilometres of the Passoni factory, it's another way we benefit from the region's shared expertise in both bicycle and titanium manufacturing.
"We first used 3D printing in 2018," says Matteo "I'm always a fan of exploring new technologies. At the same time, it's easy to create shapes that are quite alien to bicycle design. With technology, it's easy to show off what you can do but become distracted from the goal of creating better bikes. Previously everyone wanted to show off their 3D-printed parts. For me, it's always important that any element is both useful and integrated seamlessly into the bike".