First 3D printed bike debuts

First 3D printed bike debuts

Posted by Ben Baker on Jun 6th 2016

The world’s first 3D printed motorcycle debuted recently in Europe.

Well, partly 3D printed. The Light Rider has a 3D printed frame. Other parts are, presumably, made conventionally. the company is pushing the frame manufacturing process and not saying much about the remainder. The tires are pneumatic.

The 3D printed frame is made from a special aluminum alloy called Scalmalloy. “Scalmalloy is a corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy that is virtually as strong as titanium. Specifically developed for ALM-based (aluminum) production, the material combines high strength with an extraordinary level of ductility, making it an especially interesting material to use for highly solicited parts in lightweight robotics, automotive and aerospace applications,” says the company press release on the bike.

The alloy is a powder during the printing process. The 3D printing uses lasers. This “melts millions of aluminum alloy particles together.” It builds layers, like other 3D printers. In this case, the layers are about 60 microns thick. A micron is one millionth of a meter. The layers build up to make the tubes.

Tubes are preferred because they are stronger under some kinds of stress than solid rods of the same weight. The overall weight is listed at 35 kilograms, about 77 US pounds.

3D printed parts for motorcycles has been around a few years now. The Klock Werks custom build proved tough. “After winning the competition, the Klock Werks team raced the bike at the Bonneville salt flats, where they set an AMA Land Speed Record,” StrataSys said

The construction process also gives Light Rider the appearance of giant sponge or some kind of coral. That was intentional. “The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure,” the company said.

The company released a short video that shows the bike standing, not moving. Tech Tube has a video with some better images of the bike, but none in motion.


So far APWorks, the maker, has not released a lot of details about what to expect.

The chain-drive runs off a battery-powered electric motor. All this is housed in the same place as a fuel-driven motor on a regular ride. The motor and a replaceable battery are encased. In the place where a tank would normally be is just a split tube.

The brakes look to have more in common with a bicycle than a true motorcycle. In the publicity images, it has two tire sizes. The drive tire is fatter than the front. The trade on both appears to be a cross between a street bike and an off-roader.

This is not a bike for high-end performance. Think of it as a commuter ride. Top speed is around 50 miles an hour. But it can get to top end in about three seconds. Each battery is supposed to carry the ride for about 37 miles.

The frame weighs 13 pounds. There’s no welding because it is 3D printed. Because the frame is hollow, cabling and wires can be run through the frame.

The ride will run about $53,000 $56,000. The initial run is 50 bikes.

Airbus is the parent company behind APWorks, the bike’s creator and designer. Airbus is a European plane manufacturer with headquarters in France. APWorks has invested in creating lighter and stronger metal alloys.