Light Rider: World’s First 3D-Printed Electric Motorcycle


The unveiling of  the world’s first ever 3-D printed electric motorcycle fundamentally means that anythings are now possible thanks to the advent of technology.  This news has given tech enthusiast and riding enthusiast a reason to celebrate.  Just recently,  Airbus Aerospace’ subsidiary company called APWorks has released the Light Rider, an electric and lightweight motorcycle that is first of its kind in the world.  This motorcycle is considered the first ever 3-D printed and comes with a massive price tag of €39,000. Being the first and unique nature, the company is only producing a limited number of this 35-kilogram two-wheeled vehicle. But, what makes this motorcycle so pricey and different? Read on to find out.

The Features of the Light Rider and the 3D Process

This motorcycle is powered by an electric motor of 6kw.  The swing-arm and the main frame of the body are both 3D printed and created with Scalmalloy. The Scalmalloy is a powdered metal that is quite similar to the aluminum used in aircraft. These parts are also lightweight. The other parts of the motorcycle which make it run are more similar to those of the common bicycles, and not t of hose typical motorcycles. Despite the hefty cost,  enthusiasts and collectors are willing to shell out €2000 as a deposit to be placed on the waiting list. The company only aims to produce 50 units of  the Light Rider and it is selling out fast.   No word so far if APWorks would consider producing more if an influx of buyers arises.

The main design of the motorcycle is a result of the absence of machining limitations. As compared to the conventional designing and production of the body parts, the Light Rider’s gears were produced based on a design and not the other way around. With the use of 3D printing,  there is no constraint on the design. Any organic appearance can be achieved by designing itself is performed using a bionic algorithm.  This electric and lightweight motorcycle can reach a maximum of 50mph. It can go from 0 to 30 mph in just three seconds. The fully-charged battery can run 35 miles. Recharging is needed after. The presence of such innovation now rings the bell on the first electric vehicles  produced via 3-D printing.  See the following sections to get to know them.

The Strati – The 3D-Printed Car Built in Just 44 Hours

Those who witnessed how to it was built could  have probably seen the ‘coolest thing’ in their lives.   An electric vehicle that was printed using a colossal 3D printer in over 44 hours during the International Manufacturing Technology in 2014 might sound like too good to be true. However, for those who have seen it and for Jay Rogers, the guy who was able to drive it around Chicago, this was factual. Moreover, this was a breakthrough that could possibly change the way we see the future of car manufacturing. Is there any similarity between the Strati and the electric motorcycle – the Light Rider? How  cool is this car anyway? And what is it called?

Future of 3D Printed Electric Vehicles

This two-seater  3D-printed EV was called the Strati.  The concept and the design of the model itself took Local Motors roughly five months to finish.  However, the CEO of the company behind this innovation believes that in the future, the design for new models could only take a few weeks  while printing can be shortened from 44 hours to 24 hours.  Such possibility to change and challenge automobile manufacturers.  Moreover, as it is 3D printed, there are only minimal restrictions on design as compared to the cars built in a conventional manner. One of the key differences between the Strati and a regular car can be seen in the number of parts. Surprisingly, the Strati runs perfectly on 49 parts. On the other hand, the average car has 25, 000 parts.

While many are still stunned on how a car work on such a minimal amount of parts, Mr. Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, has a perfect explanation for this – simplification.  The fact that the parts of the Strati are produced using  a common material,  it was made possible to reduce the number of car parts.   Rogers was referring to the material mid-grade aluminum. Using this material, the seats, the chassis, the thermoplastic, the suspension, and the cars were produced effectively. The team that made Strati possible is also in the process of refining and fine-tuning processes so they can also print materials based on  durometers,  compressibility, and flexibility.

If this happens, then the team can produce better compression bars, more comfortable plastics for the car seats, and tweak any part that would boost the safety of the driver and the passenger.  Although Strati was released in 2014, many had predicted, including Rogers, that the model would be able to be utilized soon.  The biggest difference between the 3D-printed  motorcycle and the electric car is the price.  Believe it or not, the Strati is a significantly cheaper than the Light Rider. For only $18,000, a buyer can own of these cars in the future.  Rogers has also predicted that the cost could still drop as the demand would increase once these cars are mass-produced.

Diversification of 3D Printed Cars

Another target of Local Motors is to able to diversify the production of such 3D-printed car. For instance, the Strati can be produced depending on the environmental requirements ( i.e. Insulated cars for colder places, airy cars for warmer regions, etc).  Such principle can ultimately help the United States regain  the manufacturing of their cars that have long been outsourced to East Asia, South America, and East Europe. Moreover, the idea of  3D-printing  parts without any restriction can also be used and applied in different industries.  The idea is now being explored by his team.

2016: The Year of 3D Printed Electric Motorcycle and Electric Car Sold on the Market

Yes, they are finally here.  APWork has plunged into the business of selling limited edition electric and lightweight motorcycles.  On the other hand, Local Motors of Arizona, USA, is set to unveil the latest model LM3D this year.  This is the most advanced version of the first 3D printed car- Strati. The LM3D and the Light Rider are offered within the same price range. For drivers who intend to own a 3D-printed car, be ready to spend about $53,000.  This is just as pricey as the Light Rider.  This year,  a number of 3D printed  vehicles are also expected to surge and be seen on the highway. Are you going to be one of them? Would you be willing to splurge on the items?  Well, this year could be just the year for you!

So, you may be wondering as to why it has taken a bit long to unveil such revolutionary products to the public? The answer is – mass producing can be tough for these sustainable rides.  Local Motors have also engaged itself in open-sourcing so as to collect possible ideas from various designs from people keen on the project.  The company has received offer 200 design ideas,  but the winning piece came from Portland’s very own Kevin Lo. There was a panelist who made the decision on choosing the design. Jay Leno was even one of the panelists.  After selecting the design in July, the prototype had been made  just after a couple of months.

It is certain that the world of  3D printing will highly influence all sectors – including the motorcycle and car manufacturing industries. Despite the high cost of 3D printing these vehicles, one cannot discount the massive help this would contribute to the environment. It can, therefore, infer that this is just a beginning for companies who have exerted more resources and efforts in coming up with more sustainable ideas.  Are you now excited to purchase your own electric vehicle that has been printed for 24 hours?  Would you rather hop on an electric motorcycle?  The choice is yours. Let your preference, personal taste, and style, and  budget help you with the decision making.

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