Airbus launches 'world’s first' 3D printed motorcycle

The Light Rider features a frame which weighs only 6 kg.
The Light Rider features a frame which weighs only 6 kg.

APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, has introduced a lightweight 3D printed motorcycle, made using its Scalmalloy aluminium powder.

The Light Rider features a 6 kW electric motor and a frame which weighs only 6 kg, making it reportedly 30% lighter than conventionally manufactured e-motorcycles.

APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider’s structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle’s frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios.

‘The complex and branched hollow structure couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding,’ said Joachim Zettler, CEO of Airbus APWorks GmbH. ‘Advances in additive layer manufacturing have allowed us to realize the bionic design we envisioned for the motorcycle without having to make any major changes. With these technologies, the limitations facing conventional manufacturing disappear.’

Hollow parts

Each part of the Light Rider’s frame was produced using a selective 3D laser printing system and aluminum alloy particles in layers 60 microns thick. APWorks was able to design frame parts that were hollow instead of solid, which has allowed for integrated cables, pipes and screw-on points in the finalized motorcycle structure.

Scalmalloy is a corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy that is reportedly as strong as titanium. It has been developed for additive manufacturing and combines high strength with ductility, making it an especially suitable for use for lightweight robotics, automotive and aerospace applications.

This story is reprinted from material from APWorks, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.