While robots have replaced people on many production lines, the next-generation of automotive assembly will come with the 3D printer revolution. Italian motorcycle maker CRP has gotten a jump-start on this new production trend by printing an all-electric superbike. One day, all our motorcycles and automobiles might be made the same way.
Using selective laser sintering and polyamide-based materials reinforced with carbon fiber called Windform, CRP joined forces with F1 technologies to print this lightweight, zero-emissions electric motorcycle called the Energica Ego. Sounds all nice and fancy, but what does it all mean?
From the press release:
The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections, generated from a 3D digital file’s description of the part, on to the surface of a powder bed. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by one indexed layer thickness, then a new layer of material is applied on top, and the process is repeated until the part is completed. Thanks to this technology it is possible to create fairings, headlight covers and motorcycle components apart from the mechanical and electrical parts.
In a short time, 3D Printing and Windform materials can lead to the production of prototypes and functional parts, that once made, can be metallized and painted. With free-form design, short fabrication time and the ability to build extremely complex geometry that cannot be easily tooled (or impossible to tool) a customized production is realized that goes beyond the aesthetic model.
Get all of that? Good, because there are other goodies to gawk over as well, including a KERS braking system designed to recapture some energy and send it back to battery pack. CRP claims a real-world driving range of 120 miles between charges, with DC fast-charging stations topping off 85% of the battery pack in as little as 30 minutes.
The top speed is an electronically-limited 150 mph, and 0 to 100 mph supposedly takes just 3 seconds to accomplish. With 143 ft-lbs of torque on tap and an uber-lightweight chassis and body, the Energica Ego is set to go on sale in the spring of 2015. Will the world’s first 3D-printed electric superbike find a following among EV enthusiasts? It all depends on the as-yet undisclosed price, though I imagine it will cost more than most family sedans when all is said and done.
But I’d still buy it.