Raceware 3D printed titanium bicycle stem prototype

Following their 3D printed Garmin cycling computer mount, Raceware Direct just sent us these photos of a prototype 3D printed titanium stem that one of their reps, Martyn Harris, says he’ll be racing on his bike at the Track World Masters in Manchester next month. This isn’t the first printed titanium part for bikes, Charge Bikes recently showed off their very limited edition 3D printed ti dropouts, but Harris says this is the first printed ti stem he’s aware of. We’re gather more details on it and will update the post as we get them.

In the meantime, he’s got some nifty printed nylon valve hole covers for disc wheels with a built in magnet for cycling computers…

Raceware Direct 3D printed disc wheel valve covers with integrated cycling computer magnet

Raceware Direct 3D printed disc wheel valve covers with integrated cycling computer magnet

He’s also working on an iPhone mount that’ll use the same style quick release as the Garmin cycling computers, making removal and installation quick and easy.


  1. Does anybody know how large the largest of these 3D Titanium printers is?

    How long until we start seeing full frames built in this manner? It could lead to some very very cool designs, angles and strength zones that aren’t possible with any other material or manufacturing techniques.

  2. One day, we will have multi-material part with 3D printer technology. Bike frame, car superstructure, … We will can have very lightweight part with stiff area and soft area. It’s the beginning…

  3. Matt- I’ve been following 3d printing technology for years and I have to say that the Ti printing being done in the bike industry is some of the most exciting stuff being done in this field. Why? Because these are parts that will make it to consumers and aren’t part of some 18 gazillion dollar jet plane.

    As for printing whole bikes out of Ti, it’s not really possible with current tech. Parts come out with the surface texture of sand cast bronze or cast iron and don’t have quite the tensile strength of drawn tubing. However the parts that places like Charge bikes and this company are the perfect use of the technology as it is right now.

    It gets really interesting when you start to talk about the idea of so called “downsourcing” were finished consumer goods are no longer manufactured in a central location and transported to the end user, but designs are licensed and printed by the end user.

    AH I love this technology! I’m so excited !

  4. There was an article about 3D printed guns on Yahoo the other day….those were plastic. Hope someone doesn’t do this with Ti and injury themselves!

  5. It will be interesting to see if “3D Printing” becomes as polarizing of an issue in the bicycle industry as MIM parts have become in the firearms industry (although the process for 3D printing in titanium seems to avoid some of the criticisms that the anti-MIM folks have raised with the MIM process).

    Regardless, I find 3D printing for rapid prototyping and small-batch manufacturing a very exciting and (hopefully) disruptive technology for any number of industries.

  6. Hi Jeff,

    I like the idea of a magnet style fit for my valve covers, if i get a chance i will give it a try. The main reason for the threaded insert and bolt arrangement is so that it will fit all of the Zipp discs, the sub 9 is much wider than the standard 900 so just needs a longer bolt with the same covers.


  7. As far a 3D printing is concerned, there are alrady people who are ‘printing’ entire houses. Built out of poured concrete via a big gantry style crane. There really wil be no end to what this technology/method can do or produce.

  8. Once the singularity is reached the robots will begin using this technology to build smarter robots! One step closer to a Matrix style apocalypse!

    JK, this is awesome.

  9. The stem is very cool! I can’t wait till somebody starts printing tubes. Could probably do a tube-to-tube bike construction at a fraction of what Parlee or Crumpton charges. Or an entire front-end of a monocoque frame

  10. I think it is unlikely that we will see tubes anytime soon due to the cost and the size of the build envelope. However, I can see more companies following Charge’s lead and producing dropouts from Titanium, these can easily be printed as hollow components and as such the price is kept down and if required each one can be unique without effecting costs.

  11. Hi VP, no problem with the FFWD the plan is to have a complete range of covers. It just started with the Zipp model as it is the one I needed for my bike and had a few friendly testers with Zipp discs to try out the early models.

  12. I think the term 3D printing is completely bogus in terms of titanium. This is laser additive manufacturing where a thin layer of ti powder is broadcast over a table in an inert atmosphere and essentially burned and fused to the previously burned layer below. The table is dropped and a new layer of powder is broadcast for the next burn. This is in no way printing but rather micro welding in slices. I had the opportunity to see a bunch of very intricate parts for aerospace and the potential is huge for allowing metals to stay competitive with carbon in terms of mass.

  13. @ Steve M. … it is 3d printing in exactly the way a zcorp printer spreads powder in thin layers and then bonds with glue … in this case, the ‘glue’ is heat, but otherwise completely analogous.

    One might say it was a stretch to be considered 3d printed if it was first printed in a meltavle material and then used to create a casting through traditional ‘lost wax’ techniques … but then again, it isn’t just casting either so it has to be considered something …

  14. “3D printing” (regardless of the medium) certainly does a better job of capturing the public’s imagination than “Additive Manufacturing”.

  15. The 3D name comes from what you get out of the procedure, not how you “print” it. The part is 3D, hence why they call it 3D printing. At this point all 3D metal, ceramic or polymer printing is done by a “layer by layer” process.
    The machine I used to work with Laser Engineer Net Shaping (LENS) had an envelope of about 12x12x12 inches. There was no thing we couldn’t do, the only thing that would stop us would be extreme angles, this was just in our case, and size. Other than that we could use any powder that we could get that had a diameter of 50-150 microns.
    I don’t think we are going to see tubes from this technology. It is called rapid prototyping, but it takes a long time to make this parts. In addition they need some processing afterwards, I.e. heat treatment or sanding.
    This alone would drive the cost up way too much. I am not even sure how charge bike can affor to make those dropouts and keep the cost down. I am assuming their frames are not cheap.

  16. @ir- Wow am I confused- My aluminum frame is what I used to think was ‘welded’. Now by some of the whacky definitions used above it is ‘bonded’?

    @Felix- Every part is 3D

  17. @ plebs:

    No. A “brain”, i.e. something with printed circuits, has parts (the printed circuits) which have to be produced in a vacuum deposition chamber, which at this time and far into the future is not at all compatible with a laser sintering chamber since those circuit boards/vacuum deposition chambers are all in clean rooms during production. A laser sintering device is the antithesis of a clean room.

  18. @Bill – i will add side profile shots of the plugs onto the site when they go on sale. The stickers are fine but to be fair I never liked covering the hole on a £1500 wheel with a 1p sticker. However, the main reason for the covers was to hold the magnet. A lot of riders now use rear mounted speed sensors and sticking a magnet to your carbon disc is not very pretty and can easily get knocked off by the pick up sensor if it moves.

  19. 3D printing ‘might’ be a inexpensive way to build injection mold tools of 4150? tool steel. Currently, mold tools require many steps, cost crazy amounts of money and time. A 3D printed mold tool might not need EDM, stress-releaving and heat treating, all the steps in making an accurate molding tool, thus could be quicker to build and less expensive. But I am just guessing here.

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