Energica, an Italian manufacturer of supersport electric motorcycles, have designed parts of Italy’s first street-legal electric motorcycle, the Energica Ego, using 3D printing.
3D printed composite materials
The 4.3” dashboard is an important part of the Ego, enabling users to access and utilise the motorcycle’s extensive configuration options. It is made using Windform LX 3.0, part of CRP Tehcnology’s Windform range of composite materials.
Windform LX 3.0 is a polyamide composite reinforced with glass fibres, provides strength, stiffness and non-conductivity that make it ideal for protecting the dashboard’s sensitive electronics.
Using SLS 3D printing CRP was able to fabricate prototype dashboards within two days, far faster than traditional prototyping processes such as plastic injection molding.
3 part rapid prototyping
CRP prototyping tests involved three stages:
- First, models were subjected to road and stress tests determining the dashboard’s ability to weather extreme elements.
- The second stage tested color application.
- And the final stage trailed assembly with both plastic injection and 3D printing. This allowed CRP to calculate tolerances for the injection moulding which would be used in the production model of the Ego.
Though 3D printing is not used for full scale manufacturing of the dashboard, its use in design and prototyping saved Energica and CRP time and money in the development process.
SLS 3D printing was also used to design and prototype the Ego’s seats. With aesthetics and comfort a priority, CRP chose the Windform RL for the padded part of the seat, and Windford GT comprised the frame.
The Windform RL material is a rubber-like thermoplastic, used for applications which require flexibility. The Windform GT, like the LX 3.0, is a polyamide composite reinforced with glass fibre. It provides a balance of elasticity and resistance to impact that makes it the ideal seat frame material for absorbing shocks.
For prototyping purposes, the seat and frame were glued and stapled together. The production model replaced the Windform RL padding with foam.
Revving up motorcycle production
3D printing is proving to be a useful tool for a number of other motorcycle shops around the world.
GT-Moto, a Texas based custom motorcycle shop, is using the Robo R2 3D printer to fabricate carbon fiber PLA parts.
GT-Moto’s owner, Sofi Tsingos, says “3D printing really makes it easy to take ideas and turn them into a physical item to place onto the motorcycle, in a matter of hours and at basically no cost. Since we were able to do this at our shop, we no longer need to deal with the high costs and slow lead times associated with outsourcing jobs.”
Further, BORN Motor Co., an independent, custom motorcycle kit design studio based in Barcelona, reportedly saves €2,000 per bike using BCN3D 3D printers.
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Featured image shows the Energica Ego. Image via Energica.