Additive layer manufacturing (ALM), more commonly known as 3D printing, is increasingly being used extensively in engineering today. Just a few months ago, we saw the world's first 3D printed car roll out, and now, APWorks just unveiled the Light Rider, the world's first 3D printed electric motorcycle.
The company is a full subsidiary of the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, and was established to put more focus on state-of-the-art technologies such as ALM, and creating advanced materials. The Light Rider is one of the larger testaments to their work having a complex design produced through metallic 3D printing.
APWorks claims that their vehicle is 30% lighter than other conventional e-motorcycles with a remarkable weight of 35 kg (77 lbs). Lightweight as it is, the vehicle is powered by a 6 kW electric motor, allowing it to go up to 80 kph (49.71 mph).
In a press release, the APWorks emphasizes that 3D printing technology has given their design and manufacturing process a revolutionary turn beyond aesthetics. The company used an algorithm that makes use of natural patterns and structures to generate the highly optimized design of the Light Rider.
The result? A frame that looks more like an "organic exoskeleton." But this was what they had aimed for anyway; the complex hollow structure makes way for a sturdy build, with a lot of spaced saved. Moreover, APWorks even put their own material into the product—Scalmalloy—an aluminum alloy as strong as titanium.
While the technology is beyond that of your conventional bike, the Light Rider's look does not entirely depart from the common motorcycle. APWorks asserts that their ALM-based production will not just go into products like these, but beyond into robotics, and even aerospace applications.