Airbus’s 3D-Printed Metal Motorcycle Weighs Just 35 Kg
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 25, 2016 | 10490 views

Airbus has kickstarted its 3D printing program into full gear, this time taking the technology it would traditionally use in the skies and putting it out onto the open road with the Light Rider, a 3D-printed electric motorcycle.

Developed by Airbus Group subsidiary APWorks, the Light Rider weighs just 35 kg, a 30-percent weight reduction compared to traditionally manufactured electric motorcycles, according to the company. The bike frame itself weighs only 6 kg and a 6-kW electric motor allows it to hit 45 km/h in three seconds, climbing up to a peak speed of 80 km/h.

The Light Rider electric motorcycle from APWorks weighs just 35 kg. (Image courtesy of APWorks.)
The Light Rider electric motorcycle from APWorks weighs just 35 kg. (Image courtesy of APWorks.)

This impressive weight-saving is brought about through a combination of 3D printing and Airbus Group’s Scalmalloy material, the group's second-generation aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy engineered for high strength and fatigue resistance. The metal has been developed by Airbus for particular use in metal 3D printing production parts, with Airbus suggesting that the material is twice as strong as the aluminum-silicon powder otherwise used for metal 3D printing.

The frame was designed through an algorithm that relied on organic shapes to reduce material usage as much as possible, while still ensuring structural integrity. Each part of the frame was then 3D printed at layers of 60 microns, with nonprinted parts able to fit comfortably within the hollow portions of the 3D-printed frame. It goes without saying that the bionic structure of the Light Rider could not have been produced easily with welding or milling.

Unlike similar products manufactured to showcase the capabilities of metal additive manufacturing, such as bicycles and automobiles, the Light Rider will actually be available for sale. APWorks will be running a limited production of 50 units for USD$56,095 (EUR€50,000) a piece. Interested parties can preorder the Light Rider here with a deposit of USD$2,200 (EUR€2,000).

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