Airbus channels H.R. Giger for world's first 3D-printed motorcycle
Airbus is typically associated with making airplanes, but a subsidiary called APWorks just announced the creation of the world's first 3D-printed motorcycle that can actually be used as a daily rider. Aptly named the Light Rider, given that it weighs in at a mere 35 kg (77 lb), the electric-powered two-wheeler appears to be what would happen if H.R. Geiger designed a motorcycle.
The company said the exoskeleton-like design of the Light Rider came from the need to make the frame structurally able to withstand the loads and stresses of everyday riding. Powered by a 6-kW (8-hp) electric motor with a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), it may not be at home on the freeway, but can be used for daily city driving and commuting.
The frame of the Light Rider weighs all of 6 kg (13 lb) and is made of a material created and patented by APWorks called Scalmalloy. This is a second-generation aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy (AlMgS) that the company claims is stronger than the aluminum-silicon powder material used in most production-scale 3D printing today.
The use of Scalmalloy allowed APWorks to create hollow rather than solid frame parts, which made it easier to hide most of the cables and other elements that might be more visible on a standard motorcycle. Bionic algorithms were also used to optimize the entire structure, resulting in a cleaner overall design and a finished bike that weighs 30 percent lighter than other eBikes currently in production.
In 2015, TE Connectivity created what was then billed as the first 3D-printed motorcycle, but it was a prototype only, weighed in at around 200 kg (440 lb) and was powered by a 750-W (1-hp) electric motor.
While the Light Rider might be low on weight, the cost to buy one could be considered pretty heavy for the average motorcycle owner. Only 50 will be made, and APWorks is taking pre-orders for a €2,000 (US$2,450) deposit against a €50,000 (US$56,000) final cost. Delivery is expected to take about a year.
APWorks said it would consider creating different styles of motorcycles, like an enduro or motocross bike, before it would venture into mass producing the Light Rider. So anyone lucky enough to afford one of the 50 currently being constructed may be the owner of one very limited edition motorcycle.
The bike is introduced in the video below.
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Autodesk generated a swingarm design for Lightning motorcycles that looks very similar to this motorcycle. It's an extremely interesting concept even though it looks like a skeletal system.
The idea of computer generated designs could create a lot of interesting things and it marries well with 3d printing.
This is essentially an experiment hence the price but we're getting closer to the ultimate destination - designing things purely based on what needs to be where, rather than what is easy to produce. So much weight is wasted this way. Always has been. The next generation and the imitators will be 10 times cheaper. I think that in the mean time a conventional tube and sheet design with similar drive components would be worthwhile. $3k is the magic number.
DickHolzhaus, Do you really think none will make it to the road? If it's for PR, why wouldn't they produce them? I doubt Airbus or APWorks will run out of capital before delivery, not to mention that non-delivery would produce poor PR, and having all 50 of them on the road (or in the collector's garage) will strengthen branding.
No doubt they're using this to prove the performance of their patented Scalmalloy, which they'll license to interested manufacturers and 3D-print startups worldwide.