What can you do with a 3D printer? Anything, supposedly, but more often than not your finished products are limited to the size of your printer – which is fine when you’re making a key ring or a miniature flower pot. If you want to make motorcycle parts though, you’re going to need something a little more industrial than the little public-use 3D printer at your local library. Luckily, there’s a company out the called Zortrax who have you got you covered.
Zortrax are a 3D printer manufacturer based out of Poland – and not villains from a poorly made sci-fi movie – who specialize in big boy printing. In fact, their latest machine is called the BIG M300, and it’s capable of printing pretty much anything you want. Take a look at the pictures. Everything you see that isn’t metal or rubber was printed on the BIG M300. It’s not the first 3D printed motorcycle that we’ve seen – but it’s definitely the best. Using your average middleweight as a base, the team at Zortrax decided to scrap everything and print out their own radical bodywork.
If it can be printed, you name it, they did it. The fairings, the seat, the tail, the tank casing, the lights, the mirror cases, and the front screen were all designed from scratch, rendered using specialist software, and printed with meticulous precision. All in all, the process took a month to complete. That sounds like a long time, but if you’ve ever tried your hand at 3D printing anything at all, a month for a whole motorcycle kit is pretty impressive.
Zortrax specialist Michal Mosiej said about the project: “At every stage we faced different challenges. The first was selecting a base model that our projected prototype would fit. Then, there was the complex 3D scanning process, which requires a tremendous amount of technical detail, to ensure we maintained the same dimensions as our scanned model. The most exciting part was the designing process and the assembly, keeping in mind that all our parts must fit perfectly.”
Even though the M300 is a big machine, the print space is limited to a 300 x 300 x 300 mm area, but within that space, it can print with astounding detail – with a resolution range between 140 and 300 microns. It seems like the world of custom bike building is take a significant leap into the future…and to be part of the action all you need is a bit of knowledge about engineering, a touch of computer know-how, and a Zortrax M300 – which comes with its own special software.
Naturally, you’ll also need some raw materials too. The Zortrax M300 can print in a variety of mediums, such as Z-HIPS (to produce matte finishes and smooth surfaces), Z-PETG (a tough acid and alkali resistant plastic), and Z-GLASS (which allows you to print translucent parts – which is amazing, by the way.) So, you’ve got the idea, the materials, the software, the skills…now all you need is the machine itself. The cost? Between $4000 – $5000 USD. Expensive, but it wouldn’t take long to make that money back…If you’re into fabrication of any kind, it’s not a bad investment at all…