APWorks has created what it says is the first 3D printed production motorcycle.
The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of European aeronautics giant Airbus, a name we instantly associate with aircraft.
APWorks unveiled its “Light Rider“ in Germany this week, a lightweight electric powered machine that can be used for daily city riding and commuting.
The bike is incredibly light and weighs just 35kg, it’s powered by a 6kW electric motor and is capable of a top speed of 80km/h.
It doesn’t appear to have a great range, with one report giving it about 65km. That should be enough for commuting, but that’s about all.
However, once the battery is depleted, you can do a straight swap with a replacement so the bike can be up and running again instantly.
It’s certainly an odd looking bike, with a frame that looks more like an organic exoskeleton.
Overall, the bike more closely resembles a mountain bike than a motorcycle.
The frame is 3D printed using Scalmalloy®,a second-generation aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy APWorks claims is virtually as strong as titanium.
Each section is built up from overlaying thousands of layers of the material only 60 microns (0.06mm) thick, which are then melted on with the 3D laser.
The process has allowed APWorks to create hollow rather than solid frame parts, and most of the cables and other elements that might be more visible on a standard motorcycle are then hidden inside the frame.
The Light Rider is commercially available and APWorks plans on doing a limited production run of just 50 bikes.
They’re not cheap - around $77,000 Australian.
What’s probably more important about this bike than its performance, weight or even that it’s electric, is what this bike says about the future.
It shows the capabilities of 3D printing and that’s something we can expect to see more of in the motorcycle industry in the not too distant future.