The word Airbus probably brings to mind an image of a hefty aeroplane that flies you around the world. But this time around, Airbus has made a decidedly different kind of vehicle: a 3D printed motorcycle that looks like something straight out of Alien. Image: APWorks
Called Light Rider -- man, David Hasselhoff is probably pissed -- the vehicle was created by Airbus subsidiary APWorks. It weighs in at just 35kg and is powered by a six kilowatt electric engine that helps it go from zero to 80km/h in a few seconds.
The frame itself was made using a "selective 3D laser printing system" that melted minuscule aluminium alloy particles together. (This sounds a lot like laser sintering, a common method for 3D printing on an industrial scale.) The end product was a series of parts made up of a lot of extremely thin -- as in 60 microns thin -- layers.
And if it looks a little web-like, that's intentional:
APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider's optimised structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle's frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios. The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure.
If you want to get your hands on your very own Light Rider, you'd better get in line -- there are only 50 planned for production. They come in at the fairly steep price of €50,000 ($77,738) plus tax, but just think how cool you'll look riding down the street on this thing.