To make something complicated even more complex, patents in 3D printing do not concern only 3D printing technologies but anything you can invent with them. This latest case is a clear example of a 3D printed invention where the patent also covers 3D printing as the manufacturing method. Finnish engineering services company Etteplan received a patent for its invention created through 3D printing: a motorcycle seat equipped with a moving mechanism – and its manufacturing method.
The invention has already been applied to the seat of competitive motorcycle driver Ulla Kulju’s racing motorcycle. In addition to racing, Ulla works as a Senior Design Engineer at Etteplan. The seat slides from side to side in line with the driver’s movements, assisting the driver in weight transfer at bends. The seat also moves backward, enabling the driver to be located behind the visor, which reduces wind resistance and improves speed.
The invention enables paraplegic drivers to shift their weight in a way that has not been possible to date. It also offers concrete benefits for racers: Ulla’s lap time improved by 6 seconds at Alastaro Circuit in southern Finland. “At the core of the invention is a complex moving mechanism that can only be manufactured using 3D printing. The mechanism is printed as one piece and cannot be disassembled. 3D printing allowed us to develop an entirely new type of solution, which is not possible using traditional manufacturing methods,” says Tero Hämeenaho, Etteplan’s Department Manager, Additive Manufacturing.