3D Printing + Motorcycles

The NOWLabs Division of Germany’s BigRep company has printed a working motorcycle. In a tour de force of 3-D printing technology, except for the electrical components, all the parts of the motorcycle were printed using plastic filament. That means, from the seat to the tires, it’s all 3-D printed.

The bike is called “Nera” and Marco Mattia Cristofori and Maximilian Sedlak developed it. In addition to its method of production, it incorporates features like airless tires, forkless steering, and embedded electronics and sensors. It has an electric engine and the bumpers flex so a suspension system isn’t needed.

What about those tires? They used a honeycomb design to get support without using compressed air, like some military vehicles and lunar exploration vehicles.

You can see a video of the machine and its creation here.

BigRep isn’t a motorcycle company. Founded in 2014, BigRep took just a year and a half to become the leader in large-scale FDM serial 3D printing equipment. FDM (fused deposition modeling) is the most widely available printing process and it’s very fast and not expensive. It uses standard, high-performance and engineering-grade thermoplastics. BigRep is pushing the limits of this technology. It makes the BigRep ONE, the largest FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) now available.

Nera is a major advance over the “Light Rider” developed by AP Works. Light Rider was the world’s first motorcycle to use printed parts and weighs about half Nera’s weight. It uses non-printed, conventional tires. It’s made of thousands of ultra-thin layers in a metallic powder bed.

Two things are clear from these two prototypes: 3D printing allows for the rapid, economical production of some very complex shapes and someday we’ll walk into a showroom and wait while a motorcycle made just for us is printed.

Now, these machines use 3D printers much larger than those generally available. You can’t, so far, just waltz into your local maker-space and print a bike. But I bet you could print a model. If you want to give that a try, please share on the Eagle Leather Facebook page.

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