EADS has unveiled the world's first bike that uses a revolutionary new manufacturing process known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (or ALM). Known as the 'Airbike', it is a bike with a difference. Made of nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminum, it requires no conventional maintenance or assembly. It is 'grown' from powder, allowing complete sections to be built as one piece; the wheels, bearings and axle being incorporated within the 'growing' process and built at the same time. ALM allows single products to be grown from a fine powder of metal (such as titanium, stainless steel or aluminum), nylon or carbon-reinforced plastics from a centre located next to Airbus' site at Filton. While the Airbike is only a technology demonstrator at this stage, EADS has developed the technology to the extent that it can manipulate metals, nylon, and carbon-reinforced plastics at a molecular level which allows it to be applied to high-stress, safety critical aviation uses. The technology is likely to be employed in due course in industrial applications such as aerospace, the motor industry and engineering.
© EADS 2010