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Say hello to the custom bike that started out as just so much nylon powder...
This is Airbike, a bicycle whose space-age looks are the least interesting thing about it...
The Airbike is the work of aerospace and defence company EADS, which used a manufacturing process that involves growing parts from high-strength nylon powder. The technique is called additive-layer manufacturing (ALM) and is similar to 3D printing.
The bike started life as a fine nylon powder, but EADS said carbon-reinforced plastics or fine metal powder such as titanium, stainless steel or aluminium can also be used. The bike's design was honed using computer-aided design and the construction itself involved a powerful laser-sintering process in which successive, thin layers of the nylon powder were added until the solid, fully formed bike emerged.
Here's a close-up of the seat. The bike is a custom design, made to measure for one rider - doing away with the need for adjustable parts, said EADS.
While not the most comfortable-looking saddle, it features an auxetic design - meaning it can flex to provide some cushioning, according to the company.