In 2014 Dr. James Novak 3D printed the world’s first full-size bicycle frame as a single piece. It went on to win the Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper award at RAPID 2015 and was exhibited around the world over several years, including the Red Dot Design Museum (Essen, Germany) and BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels, Germany) with Materialise. The bicycle is now available as a NFT (non-fungible token), another world-first
James Novak is interested in the way 3D printing can bring NFTs out of the virtual world and into the physical world. Most NFTs today are 2D artworks that may unlock access to virtual communities or projects but don’t actually do much else. There is a lot of potential for sharing 3D digital files through NFT platforms, and then buyers can actually enjoy them in real life through 3D printing.
Sharing the files to 3D print the bicycle is no different. However, unlike current 3D printing platforms (e.g. Thingiverse), blockchain technology can actually track who owns the design at any point in time, and also allow designers to reach a broader community of artists and collectors. It also allows designers to be rewarded for their efforts, not just on the initial sale of a design, but as a royalty any time that design is sold in the future.
8 years have passed since James designed the bicycle and worked with Materialise to 3D print it; with today’s new 3D print technologies and materials, anyone can now build upon this project, or just enjoy owning a piece of 3D printing history.