BigRep has leveraged its large-scale 3D printing technology to create what it calls the world’s first fully FFF 3D printed (and functional) e-motorcycle. The 3D printed e-motorcycle, dubbed the NERA, was on display last week at Formnext along with a number of other innovative 3D printed prototypes, including a bionic passenger seat, an adaptive robotic gripper and a 360 degree mobile industry platform.
The forward-thinking products—all prototypes—were developed and designed by NOWlab, BigRep’s innovation consultancy and were ultimately manufactured using BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers.
The NERA e-motorcycle
Though not the first motorcycle we’ve seen that has integrated 3D printed components, BigRep maintains that the NERA is the first fully 3D printed, functional e-motorcycle (with the exception of the electrical parts). That’s right. The NERA integrates 3D printed tires, rims, frame, fork, seat and more.
“The NERA combines several innovations developed by NOWlab, such as the airless tire, functional integration and embedded sensor technology,” said Daniel Büning, Co-Founder and Managing Director of NOWlab. “This bike and our other prototypes push the limits of engineering creativity and will reshape AM technology as we know it.”
In designing the NERA, NOWlab’s engineers were committed to rethinking the motorcycle structure to adapt it to FFF 3D printing, leveraging the benefits offered by the technology. Among the most notable features of the vehicle are its airless tires with customized treads, a lightweight rhomboid wheel rim, and flexible bumpers which replace the conventional suspensions. The e-motorcycle is powered by an electric engine which itself is housed in a 3D printed case.
The Aero Seat, robotic gripper and more
In addition to the NERA, BigRep showcased another e-mobility prototype at Formnext: the Aero Seat, a passenger seat designed for autonomous driving technology. The 3D printed seat features a shell structure which can be adapted to the driver’s body shape. This is achieved by 3D scanning the driver before the seat is made. Ultimately, by offering a custom fitted seat, the goal is to improve comfort and reduce stress on long distance hauls. The Aero Seat also is equipped with flexible cushions 3D printed from TPU, which are affixed to the shell using just a few points to reduce vibrations.
The Adaptive Robotic Gripper presented by BigRep was designed to advance the integration of robotics into automated AM systems, and specifically to grip finished parts made on BigRep printers. The gripper itself was 3D printed using the BigRep STUDIO and consists of three modular fingers and an opposable thumb. When mounted on a robotic arm, the gripper can grab onto objects and is controlled by a force-monitoring system.
The design of the robotic gripper is also worth mentioning. According to BigRep, its fingers were inspired by the lamellae of geckos, which enable the creatures to climb walls. More specifically, the 3D printed fingers incorporate an additional pad made of flexible lamellae which enable the fingers to hold objects without exerting too much force.
Lastly, the Omni Platform presented by BigRep is a 360 degree mobile industry platform (measuring 100 x 80 cm) which can serve as both an automated logistics carrier (with a loading capacity of up to 200 kg) and as a platform for additional devices, such as robots.
The design of the 3D printed platform enables users to customize it to include housing for any bearings or electronics that are to be integrated into it. Notably, the Omni Platform features two 3D printed omni wheels made from different materials which enable the platform to move sideways. The device also includes a 3D printed antenna which detects humans for safety purposes.
“These exciting prototypes not only demonstrate the unprecedented capacity of FFF large-scale 3D printing technology in additive manufacturing,” said Stephan Beyer, CEO of BigRep. “They also emphasize our unique ability as the market’s innovation and thought leader to bring cutting-edge technologies from design to reality, providing an added-value market lead for our industrial customers.”
The innovative prototypes weren’t the only thing that BigRep presented at Formnext last week. Readers will likely remember that the German 3D printer manufacturer also introduced two new 3D printers based on its new MXT technology.