3D Printed Steel Motorcycle Frame – Are We Seeing a Breakthrough?

3D printing of steel is nothing new. But creating such a motorcycle tire (details in the article) is already quite problematic! The creators believe that this could be the beginning of a breakthrough in motorcycle tire building technology.

Steel or aluminum frame? Or maybe a 3D printed frame?

In the automotive industry, as well as in motorcycles, in the segment of vehicle structural elements (for example, a motorcycle frame, swingarm, etc.), two materials predominate: steel and aluminum. When comparing a certain level of hardness and sizes:
– steel is heavier, but cheaper,
Aluminum is lighter, but more expensive.

The “Holy Grail” was achieved in motorcycle body design, a frame that combines low cost, light weight and high capabilities. The key word is 3D printing on steel.

Two teams responsible for creating a 3D framework: Materials Research and Advanced Manufacturing (MOD3RN) group from from the University of Nebrija, Spain and research and development department From ArcelorMittalOne of the largest steel producers in the world.

Geometric shapes and thin walls

To achieve the proper lightness and rigidity, the engineers had to do this geometric shapes diagram Every item and every camera. Required assumption thin walls and ingredients empty insidethat wouldn’t do it Inner struts – which is unknown in the 3D metal printing industry. This has been achieved with the help of artificial intelligence in intelligent design and generative design processes. The development of stable printing of hollow elements without conductors has been one Greater achievements in the industry.

As a result, the frame is hollow and walls They’re so skinny – they just have From 0.8 to 1 mm!

The full frame is light and unique

When engineers developed 3D printing technology for thin-walled hollow metal elements, they began Entire frame design. Here too, properly designed was of great importance Algorithms.

The entire frame is an element “smooth”. This means that there are no welds and joints, as they are designed as one piece (empty from the inside, of course). there One of the few in the world The 3D hollow metal parts are large in size, low in weight and require to be used as a motorcycle frame.

framework Weighs only 3.8 kg. For comparison, aluminum frames for the best motorcycle brands ever Not less than 5 kilogramsMeanwhile similar steel frames They weigh 6-7 kilograms.

If it seems to you that the difference is insignificant – remember the premiere of any sports bike, when the manufacturer assures savings of tens or hundreds of grams on each component. Reduce a few kilograms of an essential component such as the chassis of a motorcycle tremendous progress.

Plain steel, no special needs

3D printing of metal parts consists of metal powder, which (eg using a laser) is specifically sintered – a typical additive (additive) manufacturing technology.

The team from the University of Nebrija and ArcelorMittal stress that no special steel alloys are needed to manufacture the frame. Great results are obtained with Common and widely available steel powder Used for 3D printing. Since it has been shown that steel can easily compete with aluminum or titanium in terms of lightness, then after use of additive manufacturing technology and proper selection of steel type, the results may also be impenetrable in terms of Cost-effectiveness.

This project opens the door to specific components made of steel, supporting the return of steel to many applications in various sectors of business and industry – including The field of motorcycle racing.

Honda, BMW Motorrad, Kawasaki and many other brands are already experimenting with 3D printing, as well as on metal. We’re already looking forward to the first real apps too The first motorcycles with perforated steel rims.

Does this tire really work for a track sports bike?

In any press release, the authors didn’t brag about it to any specific model For a motorcycle, this tire is supposed to fit. We’re betting on a sportbike with a 4-cylinder engine. Maybe you will see some important details in the pictures? (In the image above, the origin of the frame is likely visible in the background.)

The question is how the framework works in practice. There was one short statement about it in the press release:

“The initial feeling and the data – which we still have to confirm – is that the tire’s performance in practice, ie on the racetrack, will be unparalleled.”

So we understand that the first endurance tests have already taken place, and soon more challenging race runs will be available. We can’t wait to hear the news.

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