Electric skateboards may be getting faster and lighter, but that doesn't mean they've been getting a great deal cheaper. And what better way to fix that than to add a little 3D printing to the mix? The Bubblegum board is an electric skateboard with 3D-printable components, meaning not only is it initially cheaper to produce, but users can keep their ride in working order by printing out new parts as required.
Weighing 12.1 lb (5.5 kg), the 27-inch (69 cm) Bubblegum board is on the lighter end of the electric skateboard spectrum, on par with the Boosted Board and a little heavier than the lightweight Marbel Board. It's no slouch either, with the company claiming a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) to put it neck and neck with those aforementioned competitors, while range extends to 10 miles (16 km) on a single charge.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
These performance specifications will be enough to pique the interest of those looking for a last-mile transport solution. But the real strength of the Bubblegum board lies in its method of production. The printable ABS parts include casing and pulleys, with all files needed to 3D-print replacements or new color combinations shipped out to users on a USB stick.
This does bring into question the skateboard's durability, though the team claims to have undertaken rigorous testing over around 120 miles (193 km) of riding. The team says the board, printed parts and electronics are "really holding up well," and that the electronic components are well protected from puddles and splashes of water.
Throttle, braking and cruise control are driven by a trusty old Wii Nunchuck remote, which wirelessly communicates with the Arduino board built into the underside of the deck. This plastic casing also houses a LiFePO4 battery pack, with charge time taking around 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The next step for the team is to raise funds for production on Kickstarter. With pledges set at US$550 for a complete board, the campaign is looking to attract 100 backers to meet its lofty goal of $55,000, just under $10,000 of which has been raised at the time of writing. Boards are set to ship in March 2015 if everything goes to plan. Beefed up models with dual electric motor, higher top speed and range of 15 miles (25 km) are also available, with pledges set at $1,300.
There is still a ways to go before the Bubblegum board hits the streets, but this proposed price tag makes it one of the cheaper electric skateboards we have come across, without compromising on key specs such as speed and range (the Marbel Board can be pre-ordered for $1,299, while the Boosted Board is available for $1,995). At the very least, the Bubblegum board concept serves as a glimpse into the potential of 3D printing, as widespread access to cheap manufacturing promises to reduce costs in all kinds of new places.
Sources: Bubblegum BoardsView gallery - 13 images