Jul 16, 2016 | By Tess
If you tuned in for last month’s MotoGP FIM CEV European Championship event in Barcelona, you might have noticed that one of the winning motorcycles featured the metal 3D printing brand Renishaw on its body design. Well, if you were wondering whether 3D printing helped in the making of the impressive vehicle the answer is yes, as Moto2 team TransFIORmers, who were responsible for the motorcycle in question, teamed up with French metal 3D printing experts I3D Concept for its construction.
For readers who may be less well acquainted with the world of MotoGP (or Grand Prix motorcycle racing), it has been the premier class of motorcycle road racing since its founding in 1949. Just like in most professional car races, the motorcycles used in MotoGP are no ordinary Hogs, as they are specially designed for the races and are not available to public consumers and often cannot even be legally driven on regular roads. The racing bikes are custom built for each race and are supped up to make for the best possible performance.
That’s where TransFIORmers comes in. The Perigueux, France-based Moto2 racing team, which is led by former 250cc World Championship rider Christian Boudinot, has begun incorporating 3D printed parts into its motorcycle design in the hopes of benefitting from a competitive edge. Specifically, the team was inspired by the work of French motorcycle designer Claude Fior and his innovative front suspension designs, which are unconventionally isolated from steering forces. Practically, this eliminates the problem of “brake dive”, and allows for the bike to brake into a corner and accelerate out quickly.
Metal 3D printing allowed for the team to create a custom designed rigid front fork suspension system separated from the bike’s chassis with two wishbone components, while significantly reducing the weight of the part, making for an optimal structure and performance. To help in the 3D printing process, TransFIORmers teamed up with I3D Concept, which used its in house Renishaw AM250 3D printer in the making of the part.
Original welded steel part
3D printed titanium part
“To improve overall motorcycle performance, reducing the weight of all components located behind the shock absorbers is absolutely vital,” explained Jérôme Aldeguer, Mechanical Engineer at TransFIORmers. “Failure to optimise component weights can have an adverse effect on vibration, braking and acceleration, so weight reduction is a really high priority.”
Before 3D printing the part, the TransFIORmers team handcrafted a version of it out of steel, which necessitated the assembly and welding together of twelve separate parts. Not only was this process more time consuming, but it resulted in a part that was unnecessarily heavy. With I3D Concept’s metal 3D printing technology and know-how, they were able to reproduce the part in a single print and using a lightweight and strong titanium metal, Ti6AI4V (with an ultimate tensile strength of 1100 MPa and 99.7% density). The result was a part with a reduced weight of 40%, making for a weight saving of 600g.
In addition to the weight saving, metal additive manufacturing technologies also allowed TransFIORmers to design their part more precisely and with more control over tolerances and flexibility. Additionally, 3D modeling and rapid prototyping allowed them to quickly iterate the part’s geometries to match specific chassis and kinematic properties.
Aldeguer added about the process, “The weight reduction that metal 3D printing has achieved for us in our wishbone component has enabled us to bypass traditional weight transfer phenomenon and the problems associated with “brake dive”. More than that, it’s allowed us to design a part that is not only lighter, but far more rigid at the same time.”
As mentioned, the part was put into action this past June at the FIM CEV European Championship, where TransFIORmers took home their first ever win.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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