MOTORCYCLE as an industry is growing at an extremely rapid pace – whether it’s winglets for generating downforce, MotoGP-influenced assist and slip clutches, the introduction of electric motorcycles – it seems like we were always looking for a new advantage. Now, whether you say that the search for a new gadget depends on your personal opinion, but what’s next?
We think it could be 3D printing. Forget inkjets and laser printers, we’re talking about much more advanced than that here. In the right hands, 3D printers can allow anyone to create anything their heart desires, whether it’s a cup holder or a precision-engineered racing part for a superbike.
We know that BMW Motorrad Motorsport has been using ground 3D printing to give them the ability to print parts on the fly for quite some time now, and BMW has in the past shown the promise of 3D printing by printing a frame. S1000RR complete. So, as seems to be the case, the pioneering technology used by factory teams in the various top racing championships (BSB motorcycles, WorldSBK and MotoGP) tends to trickle down to mainstream models, so will be- what before long we’ll see a motorcycle that has a range of 3D printed parts?
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Well, there’s actually an electric motorcycle on the horizon with just that – 3D printed fairings and modular components that can be easily swapped out. This was recently covered in a story about the Tazzari group’s merger with Italian Volt, who conceptualized the Lacama: a motorcycle that lets you swap out fairings, seats (to go from singles to 2 seats) and headlight configurations. The “ chameleon ” motorcycle opens the doors to new possibilities in 3D printing of road parts and offers the consumer a greater choice on the final style of their motorcycle at a decent price.
Would 3D printing bring old parts back to the market?
A brave motorcyclist in the past printed a choke lever on his motorcycle, simply because the part he needed was no longer produced – showing that in the face of adversity, ingenuity can prevail. As technology advances, there is no doubt that it could become a fantastic option for the industry, especially for classic and heritage models which may suffer from ever decreasing availability of genuine parts. and spare.
Image: 3D printed variants available with the Italian Volt Lacama.
There is also the possibility of developing new parts, CAD designs shared in Facebook groups around the world for those who share interests in the same model. There is no doubt that aftermarket designers will monetize their designs to purchase and manufacture them at home – but it’s no different than ordering your part online. You just need to build it right after at home.
A 3D printer will set you back around Â£ 200-300, but that’s for the base models – I imagine the BMW Motorrad team didn’t order theirs from Amazon – so buy a 3D printer with enough precision to the manufacturer, a vital component will be vital, and it will be a little more expensive.
The caveat here is that a home 3D printer may not be able to build a part with sufficient structural integrity and strength to withstand external forces on the road – and if it is a vital part. and stress resistant, you really don’t want it. to engage. Some plastics can be reinforced with carbon fiber, but we’re starting to talk a lot more advanced than the average Steve in his garage hunched over his RD350LC, looking for a new exhaust mount.
Asked about 3D printing technology with their S1000RR, Marc Bongers, director of BMW Motorrad Motorsport, was city:
âThe new components are printed as plastic variants and their functionality and ease of installation is checked directly on the bike. This process is now much faster than when we had to wait for parts to be manufactured in-house or externally and made available for evaluation on the track. It is also easier to measure potential contact with surrounding parts than on a screen. “
So it’s by no means a permanent fix on the track, and they always ship the final CAD design to the factory to build a permanent metal or carbon part – but 3D printing technology makes it possible. it’s up to the team to almost instantly develop and refine a part that would otherwise take a lot longer to design.
Where does this take us, the consumer?
Of course, the question must be asked, can you trust a 3D printed part? Well, if it’s good enough for a WorldSBK teamâ¦ it’s probably going to be okay tonight!
Considering the number of classic motorcycles and scooters on the roads that may need a part that is no longer there, and with the technology that is developing day by day, I think 3D printing technology is absolutely something to watch out for. Whether it’s a manufacturer choosing it for a new range or Lacama 3D printing on the market, the options are literally endless. It’s like having a factory in your garage that can build whatever you need, so turning to a 3D printer could become the future option for all of your repairmen and handymen – but you might have to wait for the technology to catch on. develop first.