3D printed functioning motorcycle

http://www.gizmag.com/te-3d-printed-motorcycle/37729/

The 3D-printed motorcycle, on display

TE Connectivity 3D prints a functioning motorcycle

Unveiled at Rapid 2015 in Long Beach, California, TE Connectivity’s exercise in 3D printing demonstrates the ability to design a motorcycle on a computer, print it in plastic, add tires and a motor, then take it for a spin. While the result may not quite be ready to hit the highway, the concept is still nothing short of exciting.

The steering head is the most heavily stressed part of the frame in any motorcycle, yet this plastic one can handle two-up riding Printing a wheel rim strong enough to hold an inflated tire is not an easy task This V2 is just a plastic mock-up, the real motor is hidden in the fake "oil tank" behind it All the electrical components work properly on TE's prototype motorcycle

Considering that fundamental parts such as the frame and wheel bearings are entirely printed in plastic, one would agree that TE’s goal to show that the technology can be used to manufacture load-bearing production parts has been achieved.

Modeled in a Harley-Davidson Softail fashion, the motorcycle measures around 8 ft (2.4 m) long, weighs 250 lb (113.4 kg) and consists of more components than its designers can account for. Its frame, printed after a process of trial and error, can support a total of 400 lb (181 kg) – that would be two adult passengers. Apart from the small electric motor and tires, some other outsourced parts include the braking system, electrical wiring, battery, belt drive, mirrors, sidestand and some bolts.

The highlight is, of course, its fully functioning status. A small 1 hp (750W) electric motor can power a 15 mph (24 km/h) ride for several minutes. Though this may not sound ground-breaking, it doesn’t necessarily need a bigger battery or a stronger engine to make a point as a showbike at a conference on printing, scanning and additive manufacturing. All that matters is that, after some 1,000 work hours and US$25,000, TE Connectivity has come up with a proper motorcycle indeed.

The main load-bearing parts were constructed with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, the process of injecting layer upon layer of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic enriched with the heat resistant resin Ultem 9085. With this process, TE printed several parts with complex dynamic properties, such as the frame.

The wheel bearings sound tricky to fabricate, especially the rear one that was printed into a single piece with the hub and the drive sprocket. After some testing miles, both bearings reportedly held up against the load they must bear and the heat generated in the process. Equally difficult work has probably been involved in the fabrication of the wheel rims, which have to support real motorcycle tires with fully-inflated tubes.

Some metal parts like the headlight housing were printed in bronze through Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), where a laser melts the desired shape out of several layers of metal powder.

Apparently this is the second prototype or, more precisely, a rebuild of the first after it suffered some damage during transportation. Thankfully creative minds saw this as an opportunity rather than a calamity, finding the chance to make some improvements on the original design.

Although it seems highly improbable for an electronic connector and sensor manufacturer to build any more motorcycles, TE Connectivity’s achievement highlights some promising prospects. Already several DMLS applications are available to the automotive and aerospace industries though companies like EOS. Stratasys, whose printers worked overtime for this project in TE’s labs, is currently in a partnership with Ducati advising the Italians on developing in-house FDM prototyping. By printing functional prototype engines, Ducati has been able to cut the development time of a new Desmosedici race engine for MotoGP from 28 to only eight months. Benefits from this process are expected to reach production models sooner or later.

TE Connectivity initially thought of printing a model of a motorcycle as a display of sculpting skills. This had already been done, several times over. The idea of a functioning bike was born in the process, probably out of the realization that it could actually be done. After all, the first printed car was unveiled and driven in public just last September.

3D printing technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, having progressed in just a few years from forming simple ornamental plastic parts to generating dynamic structures that function within moving mechanisms. In this sense, this motorcycle that looks like a child’s toy may well prove to be a landmark product.

gizmag.com

by  | May 29, 2015

3D printed LEGO

Introducing ‘Uberblox’, the Modern Equivalent of Lego!

http://www.gizmag.com/uberblox-modular-construction-set-…/…/

A 3D CNC router (computer controlled cutting machine) assembled from UberBlox, which is a new Lego-like metal construction and prototyping kit (Photo: UberBlox)

As cool and wonderful as Lego is, those plastic bricks can be tricky to handle if you want to step up from mere constructive play into serious custom-built prototyping. UberBlox hopes to fill that gap. It’s a metal construction set and prototyping system with a single-connector locking mechanism and a variety of control boxes for accommodating whatever computer connection or automation needs a project might have.

“It is difficult to make automated machines without years of developing skills and know-how,” UberBlox Systems founder Alex Pirseyedi tells Gizmag. “You need to know about technical design principles, not to mention the skills required to fabricate and assemble parts accurately to make such complicated machines work.”

UberBlox was born of the need for a solid, easy-to-use modular system that enables makers to build and test their robots, 3D printers, smart systems, and other computer-programmed automated machines. Pirseyedi notes that, while the traditional plastic building block sets “are great for quickly and easily making something,” they can’t handle the kind of rigidity and accuracy these automated machines require. UberBlox, he argues, bridges the gap by combining the lower barrier of entry of something like Lego with the higher technical needs of a typical maker.

“Even with today’s readily available aluminum T-slot mechanisms, you still need to cut, drill, mill, fit, re-try, re-cut, [and] deal with a huge number of choices for connecting parts,” explains Pirseyedi. “And [you have to] do all this accurately with tools and equipment that you may not necessarily have easy access to or know how to operate properly. UberBlox eliminates all that. You simply imagine a machine idea within the context of the system, and you start assembling parts, mostly with a single small tool. The supporting electro-mechanic, electronic, and software components then help you bring it to life.”

As for specific examples of what UberBlox might be helpful to produce or prototype, Pirseyedi has suggestions. The big one his team is pushing is 3D printing, with much of the marketing material revealed so far showing how the kit can become a functioning 3D printer. If you really just want a 3D printer, of course, you can buy one preassembled or packaged in a more tailored kit. But UberBlox is for the curious. It’s targeted at people who “have a desire to make their own so that they can learn engineering and technical skills as well as be able to tweak their system however they like,” says Pirseyedi.

Moreover, he adds, UberBlox allows for quick and easy testing of new design ideas for either entire 3D printing systems or portions of them, which is a popular pursuit of many in the maker community, without getting bogged down in the fabrication process. “After all, that is one of the reasons we’ve had such an explosion in interest in low-cost 3D printers in the past couple of years,” he says.

Besides 3D printers, the system could also “easily” be used to build loads of different types of robots, including manipulator arms, rovers, and humanoids, as well as laser cutting and engraving or CNC milling and routing machines.

It isn’t clear yet exactly what parts will be included in UberBlox kits, but they will include both basic blocks and reconfigurable parts, such as motors, moving components, electronics, and “Brain-Box” controllers for do-it-yourself boards, such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. It sounds like there’ll be multiple configuration options, but the UberBlox team is keeping the details quiet on this and pricing until it launches a Kickstarter campaign later this month.

The upcoming UberBlox Kickstarter will also reveal how the connection mechanism works, and if it surpasses its goal the team may be able to develop a 3D software tool designed specifically for drag-and-drop assembly of virtual UberBlox parts to aid in the design process. Regardless of any stretch goals, the team will release 3D models of UberBlox parts to backers “at some point in time” so that they can play around with them in their CAD or 3D modelling software of choice.

GIZMAG.COM
by  | February 15, 2015