May 20, 2016 | By Benedict

APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, has built a fully functional 3D printed motorcycle. The vehicle, which has been dubbed the ‘Light Rider’, is made from APWorks’ Scalmalloy material and weighs just 35kg.

Joachim Zettler (left), CEO of Airbus APWorks GmbH, and Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders presenting ‘Light Rider’, the world’s first 3D-printed motorcycle

Ever since APWorks first announced the creation of Scalmalloy, a high-strength aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy, the Airbus subsidiary has been keen to show off exactly what the material can do. First came this super-lightweight, 3D printed airplane partition, and now an entire vehicle has been made from the stuff. The Light Rider is, admittedly, smaller than your typical Airbus vehicle, but before the aerospace giant 3D prints half its future airplane fleet, this 3D printed motorcycle, unveiled today in Ottobrunn, Germany, demonstrates just why Airbus and APWorks have so much faith in the potential of Scalmalloy. “With the Light Rider we at APWorks demonstrate our vision of future urban mobility,” said engineer Stefanus Stahl.

Weighing in at just 35kg, the 3D printed Light Rider is around 30% lighter than conventionally manufactured e-bikes, can zoom from zero to 45km/h in just three seconds, and has a top speed of 80km/h. The secret to the impressive bike is its 3D printed frame, which weighs just 6kg, part of the reason for the vehicle’s 60km battery life. Although its appearance might take some getting used to, the topologically optimized structure of the frame is designed to eliminate mass where it is not required. APWorks actually developed a special algorithm, inspired by bionic structures and natural growth processes, to work out where material could be eliminated and where it needed reinforcing. The result is a skeletal, almost organic-looking structure, with not a gram of surplus material in sight.

According to APWorks, the lightweight, optimized, 3D printed frame could not have been produced using any other manufacturing technique: “The complex and branched hollow structure couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding,” explained Joachim Zettler, CEO of 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.”

APWorks has worked at the forefront of additive layer manufacturing (ALM) and advanced materials since its launch in 2013. "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," says the company.

To create the incredible 3D printed frame, APWorks used a selective 3D laser printing system to distribute the Scalmalloy powder in layers just 60 microns thick. By 3D printing these parts, APWorks was able to create unusual shapes and reduce mass, while also reaping the other rewards of a bottom-up manufacturing approach: many of the Light Rider’s 3D printed frame parts are hollow, which allowed the designers to integrate cables, pipes, and screw-on points directly into the motorcycle body.

Scalmalloy, the aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy used by APWorks to create the Light Rider’s frame, is a corrosion-resistant material which purportedly exhibits titanium-like strength. Designed specifically for additive manufacturing purposes, the material combines strength with a high level of ductility, making it ideal for robotics, aerospace, and automotive 3D printing projects.

APWorks plans to build 50 more Light Riders, available to buy for €50,000 each. A €2,000 deposit is required to join the waiting list.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Tim Roberts wrote at 5/31/2016 5:03:12 AM:

Can we put it on show at the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival in Newcastle Australia on 13-14 August 2016

naveen wrote at 5/22/2016 2:04:21 PM:

so nice

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