With the climate crisis becoming increasingly more serious, many people are seeking more eco-friendly alternatives to everyday things, like fashion, eating and transport. In the latter category, Polish designer Piotr Krzyczkowski took matters into his own hands by designing a green, urban transport solution in the form of a 3D printed electric motorbike. The vehicle, called Falectra, has become the first Polish electric motorbike brand and will soon become available for road-use.
Krzyczkowski was inspired to create his own electric motorbike after a trip to Milan, where he saw people navigating the Italian city’s narrow streets on two-wheel vehicles with ease. In fact, Krzyczkowski’s project is part of a growing trend to use motorbikes—and especially electric motorbikes—to combat congestion and to leverage zero-emission vehicle capabilities.
Falectra goes beyond an eco-friendly transport solution: it is also cheap, costing just $0.25 per 100 km; can travel up to 70 km on a single charge; and can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h—perfect for urban settings).
The electric motorbike has been in development for years now and is nearly ready to hit the Polish market. The first stage in the bike’s development—which took nearly two years—involved coming up with the final design of the motorbike and patenting it, as well as gathering funding to take it to the next phase.
The second development stage consisted of producing a fully functional prototype, which helped Krzyczkowski showcase the value of his project to investors. 3D printing played a critical role in bringing this physical, fully functional prototype to life.
“Alone, a ‘virtual project’ is no longer enough for partners and investors,” explained Krzyczkowski. “We had to show a fully functioning prototype. Yet simply creating the laminate panels that form the vehicle’s bodywork would have cost PLN 150,000-200,000 ($39,000 – 52,000)—way beyond our budget. That’s when we started thinking about 3D printing.”
At this point, the designer teamed up with Polish 3D printing company Zortrax, which offered its M200 Plus and M300 Plus 3D printers, as well as its Z-ULTRAT material for the job. Impressively, the technology enabled the Falectra inventor to dramatically reduce his prototyping costs and only took half a year to iterate.
“Through our cooperation with Zortrax, the parts needed to assemble the prototype were created on their printers,” Krzyczkowski added. “The whole process cost almost seven times less and we were able to show the world a functioning motorcycle.”
The production of a physical prototype was not only useful to showcase the functionality of the motorbike to potential investors, but it also enabled Krzyczkowski to get a glimpse into the bike’s potential for mass production and to come up with a budget to estimate the final e-bike’s cost.
“We knew that the print’s durability was the priority, so that the motorbike created by Piotr would be fully functioning and ready to use,” said Miłosz Bertman, lead 3D designer at Zortrax. “We chose the Z-ULTRAT material, which can endure heavy loads, and used the M200 Plus and M300 Plus printers. This enabled us to create parts that fully reflect the appearance and functionality of these motorbikes, which will soon be mass-produced.”
Following the success of the 3D printed Falectra prototype, Krzyczkowski is preparing to launch his first motorbikes onto the roads next year. According to the Polish designer, the first ten electric motorbikes will be driven for research purposes next year and mass production of the bikes will commence in 2021. The Falectra is expected to cost roughly $4,000 when it becomes commercially available.