Functional Prototypes for Electric Motorcycles Made with CLIP Technology
Electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors is changing the racing bike industry in more ways than one. In a sport that has been dominated by gas-powered engines, Alta is working to secure a place for all-electric bikes. And as a small startup competing against large OEMs, Alta has found it necessary to take a nimble approach to product development, relying in part on functional prototypes made via Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology.
Developed by Carbon, CLIP is a photochemical process that projects UV images through an oxygen-permeable window into UV-curable resin to build up 3D objects. According to Alta engineers, parts produced this way have better mechanical properties and surface finishes than those made with other technologies.
Brisbane, California-based Alta’s CLIP prototype supplier is The Technology House (TTH), a service bureau located in Streetsboro, Ohio. Part designs can be iterated quickly despite this distance; Alta digitally sends its CAD files to TTH and receives test parts within a few days. After testing the prototypes, Alta can easily make changes to the design and send updated files to TTH for the next iteration.
When test parts are received, Alta performs two levels of validation. First are fit and mechanical tests, followed by shock, vibration and ingress protection. Only after prototypes have passed these validation tests does Alta invest in mold tooling for production.
Racing bike parts that have been prototyped this way include a housing for an on-board charger (seen in the video below), used to convert AC power to DC to recharge the battery. In addition to protecting the electronics from the motocross environment, the housing also needs to endure heavy loads and vibrations. Using a CLIP-manufactured housing, Alta improved the robustness of the seal and validated the design before investing in injection molding.
The video below offers a closer look at Alta Motors’ production of its Redshift motorcycle using CLIP prototypes:
To shorten the production time even further and avoid tooling costs, Alta is currently working with Carbon to identify components that could be directly 3D printed. Doing so could open up new part geometries and allow the consolidation of assemblies, such as a high-voltage connector that is currently assembled from two components. Using CLIP technology, that connector could be printed as one part.
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