Airbus APWorks Division Reveals First 3D Printed Motorcycle

APWorks, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus Group, has developed a lightweight electric motorcycle dubbed the Light Rider. The bike’s entire frame has been developed using an innovative proprietary 3D printing technique, which allows it to weigh in at a scant 35 kg (77 lbs).

Propelled by a 6 kW electric motor mounted within a frame that weighs just 6 kg (13 lb), the world’s first 3D-printed electric motorcycle is said to be 30 percent lighter than conventionally manufactured electric motorcycles. It can achieve a top speed of 50 mph.

The Light Rider’s frame design consists of a complex and branched hollow structure, which was produced using a selective 3D laser printing system that melts millions of aluminum alloy particles together. Each 3D-printed part consists of thousands of thin layers just 60 microns thick and allow for integrated cables, pipes and screw-on points in the finalized motorcycle structure.

“[The Light Rider’s design] couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding,” said Joachim Zettler, CEO of Airbus APWorks GmbH. “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.”

The motorcycle looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed an algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure that was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios.

The lightweight frame is built using Scalmalloy, a corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy developed by Airbus that is as strong as titanium and specifically developed for ALM-based production. The company says the material combines high strength with a high level of ductility, making it an interesting material to use in lightweight robotics, automotive and aerospace applications.

APWorks is offering the Light Rider motorcycle in a limited production run of just 50 units and currently taking €2,000 ($2,450) deposits against a €50,000 ($56,000) total cost. Expect first deliveries in 2017.

Visit the Light Rider website for more information.


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