The Airbus Group subsidiary APWorks has developed what it has presented as being the world’s first 3D-printed electric bicycle/motorcycle, according to recent reports.
While the 3D-printed bike has been described by those involved as a motorcycle. As one can see, the design is somewhat spare — the bike reportedly only weighs 35 kilograms, or ~77 pounds (the frame only weighs 6 kilograms).
The new bike — which has been dubbed the “Light Rider” — possesses a 6 kilowatt (kW) electric motor.
Steve Hanley of Gas2 adds: “The Light Rider is no TT Zero racer or Pikes Peak contender. It has a top speed of only 50 mph and accelerates to 30 miles per hour in just a touch more than 3 seconds. The battery can be easily removed for recharging or swapped out when depleted. It has a range of 35 miles. The light weight means it could actually be carried on a normal bicycle rack or taken upstairs in an elevator without much exertion.”
The press release provides more:
3D-printing technologies have revolutionized the design and manufacturing process — not only in terms of structure and aesthetics, but also in impressive weight savings on parts and equipment when compared to those made using conventional manufacturing techniques. APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider’s optimized structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle’s frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios. The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure. The Light Rider’s design echoes the form of a conventional motorcycle — but looks like a distant relative of today’s motorbikes.
…Each 3D-printed part of the Light Rider’s frame — produced using a selective 3D laser printing system that melts millions of aluminum alloy particles together — consists of thousands of thin layers just 60 microns thick. Leveraging the benefits of 3D-printing technology, APWorks designed frame parts that were hollow instead of solid, which has allowed for integrated cables, pipes and screw-on points in the finalized motorcycle structure — resulting in a dramatic 30% weight reduction over motorcycles produced using conventional manufacturing techniques.
“The complex and branched hollow structure couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding,” stated Joachim Zettler, CEO of Airbus APWorks. “Advances in additive layer manufacturing have allowed us to realize the bionic design we envisioned for the motorcycle without having to make any major changes. With these technologies, the limitations facing conventional manufacturing disappear.”
“We further harnessed the benefits of metallic 3D printing by using our own proprietary material, Scalmalloy, for the construction of the frame,” continued Zettler.
According to the company, the corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy Scalmalloy is roughly as strong as titanium — and has a very high level of ductility, making it potentially useful in the automotive, aerospace, and robotics sectors.
A limited production run of only 50 units is currently available for purchase (pre-order) at the product’s website (here). But note that the price is $56,000….