The world’s first 3D printed motorcycle is here! We caught up with Angela Grünewald from its creator, Airbus AP Works who told us everything we needed to know about the lightweight and electric powered Light Rider.
Why did you decide to create the world’s first 3D printed motorcycle?
The Light Rider is a design prototype intended to demonstrate what is possible today with 3D Printing. The primary objective was to reduce the weight of the frame while still having very high stability, so that a top speed of 80 km/h would be possible. The Light Rider’s design echoes the form of a conventional motorcycle – but looks like a distant relative of today’s motorbikes. The complex and branched hollow structure couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding. With 3D Printing, the limitations facing conventional manufacturing disappear.
How does a 3D printer make a motorcycle?
The basic principle is nearly the same as for desktop paper printers. A 3D geometry is designed and send to the machine. The geometry gets sliced in thousands of layers. You can imagine, each layer represents a brick, like used for house building, which added up result in the whole part. Each layer consists of fine metal powder getting molten by the high energy of a laser system. The laser is melting all areas where the part will appear afterwards.
What electrical system do you use in the Light Rider? Why did you decide to go electric?
E-Mobility is currently of interest to many people, and this together with the lightweight construction and 3D Printing led to the Light Rider. E-Mobility is not only a matter of trend, but in our case the best alternative to stick to a lightweight design. A standard combustion engine would have been much heavier. Furthermore, the electric engine allows us to have a higher acceleration. The Light Rider therefore offers a mobility alternative which looks innovative, drives with almost no CO2 emission and has a low weight.
How does it work?
The electric engine basically works as your phone at home. A battery is keeping the energy which is driving the engine. Compared to a standard combustion engine, the electric engine is quiet and does not need any fuel. Recharging works by plugging the battery to a socket.
Do you have plans for any other electric or 3D printed vehicles?
We are at present at the prototype level. But we are examining whether we can offer different versions.
What is your goal with electric vehicles?
As already stated above, the Light Rider is a design prototype, intended to demonstrate what is possible today with 3D Printing. E-Mobility is not only a matter of trend but in our case the best alternative to stick to a lightweight design.
What is the future of the electric vehicles?
You can nowadays see, that nearly every car manufacturer offers an electric vehicle. Especially for big cities this a necessary approach. Small distances are needed and electric vehicles offer them with low noise and almost no CO2 emission. In the last years many of the vehicles did lack an innovative design. We did combine an innovative design with e-mobility to offer a good alternative and to show where lightweight design can result in when 3D Printing is used.
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