IMG_5605_largeAs the world begins to come to grips over the fact that someone has already 3D printed a fully functional car, and that surgeons from across the globe have been able to successfully implant 3D printed structures into the human body, everyday seems to bring us yet another new surprise from within the 3D printing space. One event, which has begun to make a name for itself when showing off what additive manufacturing is capable of accomplishing is RAPID — a four day conference and exhibition dedicated to 3D printing & additive manufacturing.

Image may be reproduced only with written expression of Gregory Clarke CG Lawrence Photography

RAPID 2015 is set to kick off in Long Beach, California this week, and this year’s show will definitely not disappoint. If this weekend’s news that Stratasys would be showing off a 3D printed snowboard wasn’t enough to get you excited, then another project which will be unveiled at the event surely will.

TE Connectivity’s, Charles D. Fry will present what is claimed to be first “fully functional 3D printed motorcycle for an internal event”. Most impressive of all though, is that this vehicle was printed using ABS plastic, yet it has the ability to hold two adult riders.

“The TE team’s design concept started almost a year prior to actually building the 3D printed motorcycle,” TE representatives tell 3DPrint.com. “We thought about making a replica of an existing motorcycle, but decided against that. We then started with basic hard tail frame design and expanded upon it. The frame was simulated to insure that we had sufficient material and a few minor changes were made due to those simulations to reduce stress concentrations.”

Using Creo design software, the team at TE carefully designed all of the aspects of the vehicle and then used ANSYS for simulation. The ABS plastic parts were then 3D printed on various Fortus 3D printers from Stratasys, including the uPrint SE Plus and an EOS M280. Once all of the parts were 3D printed, it was then on to post processing by means of vapor smoothing, sanding, painting and acetone smoothing.

Image may be reproduced only with written expression of Gregory Clarke CG Lawrence Photography

When assembled, the bike measures an incredible 8 feet long, and even though it is made of plastic, it can hold an amazing amount of weight.

“The motorcycle is capable of holding two riders with a combined weight of 350-400 total pounds,” TE tells us. “The issue is the capability of the motor. It is only one horsepower and has difficulty with riders over 200 pounds and on hills.”

Image may be reproduced only with written expression of Gregory Clarke CG Lawrence Photography

This motorcycle has the ability to drive between 10-15 miles per hour using an all-electric motor,which was not actually 3D printed. The parts which were manufactured via other methods include; the drive belt, the various electronics, some of the bolts and the braking system. The vast majority of the other parts were all 3D printed in the aforementioned ABS plastic. This includes the wheel bearings, handlebars, frame, seat, and more. The wheel bearings were actually the highest risk 3D printed part that TE had to create.

“We built samples (of the wheel bearings) and tested them at 2000 rpm,” TE explains. “We then built rims to insure that the beads would hold the tires when the inner tubes are fully inflated. After these items, it was mostly aesthetic issues and good design practice.”

The motorcycle, which will be exhibited at RAPID 2015, actually is a rebuild of the first one which unfortunately was damaged in a transportation accident. A few minor improvements have been made to this second iteration, including the way in which the electric motor is mounted to the frame.  This ended up improving the bike’s overall performance.

Image may be reproduced only with written expression of Gregory Clarke CG Lawrence Photography

While this probably wouldn’t be a bike that you would take on a leisurely ride across country, it certainly goes to show the potential that even some of the most simplistic forms of 3D printing can provide, not just for prototyping but for the creation of end-use products. For those of you able to attend RAPID 2015, be sure to check out this amazing motorcycle on Wednesday, May 20 between 10:00 am – 10:25 am, when Charles D. Fry discusses its development in depth for those in attendance.

What do you think about this incredible creation? Would you like to have this awesome piece of machinery in your garage? Discuss in the fully functional 3D printed motorcycle forum thread on 3DPB.com.

Image may be reproduced only with written expression of Gregory Clarke CG Lawrence Photography

[Image source: TE Connectivity]
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