Lightweight Motorcycle Made Through AM to Be Seen at IMTS
The APWorks Light Rider is said to be the first motorcycle to be made through 3D printing. At just over 77 pounds, it is likely the world’s lightest motorcycle as well. The Light Rider will be one of the attractions on exhibit in the International Manufacturing Technology Show’s new Additive Manufacturing Pavilion—specifically in EOS’s booth N-79.
The frame was made through direct metal laser sintering on an EOS machine. APWorks is an Airbus Group company, and metal 3D printing is just one example of a technology applied to next-generation aircraft components that was brought to this bike. The frame is made of Scalmalloy, an aircraft grade aluminum, and the frame design was modeled using Altair software for topology optimization, minimizing the amount of mass and material needed to deliver the frame’s required strength and stiffness. The manufacturer says the result is a power-to-weight ratio for the electric-powered bike that is equivalent to that of a racecar.
Spirit AeroSystems recently began installing the Boeing 787’s first titanium structural component to be made through AM. The part is not critical but also not minor. I spoke with manufacturing leaders at Spirit about the meaning of the part and the way forward for additive in aircraft structures.
Production capacity isn’t the only reason that additive has been slow to make inroads into the automotive industry. There is a larger barrier to entry—one that General Motors and Autodesk are working to overcome.
GE engineers started with a radio-controlled engine and redesigned it for additive manufacturing. This model manufacturing exercise illustrates important real points about additive manufacturing as a production option.