German industrial designer Jacob Haim has teamed up with Munich Composites to develop a super-light carbon fiber bike with a frame that is woven instead of welded. As a thesis project for his degree in applied technology and science from FH Joanneum- Graz, Haim worked with Munich Composites to make the raceBRAID, which can be produced with virtually no waste and weighs in at a scant 11 pounds.
Braiding is normally done by hand, but in order to weave a collection of fibers tightly enough that they can be used to build a bike, Haim had to employ some sophisticated machinery. “The fibers are braided into a tube, which then feeds them into to a shaping core,” explains the Munich Composites website. “The fibers are treated with resin and cured. The braiding technique offers the advantage of fully automating the fiber deposition. This minimizes the manual work previously required and possible sources of error are eliminated.”
But why go through all of this trouble? As Haim told Bicycle Design, “no material waste, low error rate, customized to the individual needs.” He also feels that it creates “a connection between high class engineering and the spirit of design.” Although it’s unlikely that the RaceBRAID will reach mainstream consumers anytime soon, the process of building it proves that there’s no such thing as thinking too far outside the box when looking for new materials.