“I’m amazed that so many people are so amazed that a girl built a motorcycle.” – Dr. Eva Håkansson
There are many types of different adrenaline junkies in the world, as well as those who have a definite need for exhilaration combined with some element of risk. Most of us immediately think of race car driving when it comes to those speed seekers, and that’s a sport that we’ve seen being offered improvements via 3D printing from inspiring advanced student projects to decked out vehicles eventually meant to run on the professional track. And then there are those who prefer to ride—and often race—motorcycles. Enjoying speed and excitement, but with much less protection, motorcyclists are a breed all their own, enjoying high speeds whether on the track or in a more natural landscape.
Technology, and that on the extreme cutting edge, has always played a large role in the automotive industry, and we’ve certainly seen our share of 3D printing in the motorcycle realm already, from racing bikes to fully functional motorcycles, and more.
Now, LulzBot 3D printers have been responsible for aiding in the construction of a custom electric motorcycle designed by Dr. Eva Håkansson. Originally from Sweden, and a self-professed “speed junkie and tree hugger,” Håkansson recently earned her PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver in Colorado, where she says that the field changed her world. She also consults in the area of racing and electric vehicles built for high performance.
In a recent case study, the LulzBot team revealed more about the story behind the KillaJoule, and the woman who is busy setting world records with the electric motorcycle, currently at 248.746 mph. While many may perceive her as someone who is not your average woman, she’s certainly not your average engineer either.
“The real purpose of the KillaJoule is what I call eco-activism in disguise,” Håkansson said. “We want to change the general public opinion about electric vehicles and particularly changing the image that they’re slow … by building something that is so fast that nobody can ignore it.”
The project is all-consuming, and one that she works on virtually every day. Her husband Bill Dubé, a research engineer at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also helps with advancements on the KillaJoule.
And as so many others around the world too have professed, Håkansson has great admiration for the LulzBot TAZ 3D printer, as well as INOVA-1800, a premium material she is very fond of using, as evidenced with the speedometer housing for the KillaJoule.
“It prints beautifully, it’s strong, the surface finish is great, and the print quality is great,” Håkansson said.
Other parts, such as that for the sidecar, were printed using PLA. And while all of the benefits of 3D printing are obviously in motion for Håkansson and the innovative KillaJoule, the LulzBot TAZ 5 offers specific perks in that it can print with so many different materials, allowing her to have great versatility and continued self-sustainability in her engineering ventures with one goal: to always become faster.
“There is no more wonderful, beautiful way of creating aerodynamic parts like spoilers, leading edges, and so on than 3D printing,” Håkansson said. “3D printing is the absolute optimal way of doing that.”
And electric vehicles, as Håkansson states, give her everything she needs in a high-performance machine, including the torque and power—without pollution. That’s compelling, and something we’d all like to see become more prevalent. As you view the design (see the images and video below), you may wonder why the futuristic looking KillaJoule, which took six years to build, is called a motorcycle.
“The KillaJoule is under international competition rules defined as a motorcycle, and the reason it is defined as a motorcycle is because it has two wheels in line,” explains Håkansson. “It has a front wheel that steers. It has a rear wheel that drives. That makes it a motorcycle.”
While she may be gaining great attention for an electric vehicle built by a female engineer that’s breaking records, Håkansson is certainly spreading the word about the benefits of using 3D printing technology in terms of speed, skipping the middleman, affordability—and with the TAZ, the ability to download a file, turn the printer on, and walk away while it’s working. Her next project will be another motorcycle featuring many more 3D printed parts made by the TAZ 5 3D printer.
“It’s opened a whole new dimension of manufacturing,” Håkansson said. “You can do things you can’t even dream of making otherwise.”
The TAZ 5 3D printer has been a mainstay in desktop 3D printing since its introduction, as has its next-generation update, the TAZ 6. Be sure to check out Håkansson’s website for more updates as she continues to 3D print—and set records. Discuss in the 3D Printed Motorcycle forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: LulzBot; Dr. Eva Håkansson]