UDMT deploys Renishaw metal 3D printing technology for electric motorcycle transmission

The University of Deusto Moto Team (UDMT) and Spanish metal 3D printing service provider MADIT Metal have joined forces to 3D print a transmission for an electric motorcycle for the Barcelona Smart Moto Challenge, which they claim is the first Spanish-made motorcycle to incorporate metal 3D printing.

The teams deployed global engineering firm Renishaw’s RenAM 500M 3D printing system to produce the components after breakdowns in conventional manufacturing supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought the project to a halt. 

Utilizing 3D printing to print the transmission components enabled the teams to achieve a 30 percent reduction in the weight of the parts, leading to speed and acceleration gains for the motorcycle. 

UMDT's electric motorcycle equipped with a 3D printed transmission. Photo via Renishaw.
UMDT’s electric motorcycle equipped with a 3D printed transmission. Photo via Renishaw.

3D printing for the Smart Moto Challenge

The Barcelona Smart Moto Challenge sees student engineering teams from around the world compete to develop the best electric motorbike on the market, and with the end goal of commercializing the product. The UDMT team is made up of around 20 students from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Deusto aiming to design and manufacture a smart electric motorcycle to compete in the challenge.

3D printing has also been used by other teams in the project, such as the Elisava Racing Team from Barcelona’s University School of Design and Engineering, which employed the expertise of 3D printer Manufacturer BCN3D to print end-use parts for its all-electric intelligent mountain rescue motorcycle

Called DAYNA, the motorcycle is equipped with 19 3D printed parts from a variety of technical materials, and is specifically designed for mountain rescue operations in hostile environments. The vehicle is capable of integrating and analyzing information from embedded GPS tracking devices to monitor movement and provide for accidents or situations where the rider may need assistance.

Outside of the challenge, 3D printing has also been used by students and industry alike to produce prototypes and end-use components for electric motorbikes. At Formnext 2018, large-scale 3D printer manufacturer BigRep unveiled a fully-functional prototype electric motorbike named NERA, which aside from the electronics was entirely 3D printed.

Elsewhere, Musashi Seimitsu Industry, a Japanese automobile parts manufacturer, and advanced battery technology specialist KeraCel formed a strategic partnership to accelerate the development of 3D printed solid-state batteries primarily focused on the motorcycle industry, and additive manufacturing service provider Fast Radius and custom electric motorcycle startup Curtiss Motorcycle Company partnered on the prototyping of the Zeus 8 hot rod bike.

Most recently, students from ETH Zurich used Sintratec 3D printing technology to design and manufacture a fully functional electric motorbike prototype as part of the ETHEC city project, with a strong focus on sustainability and increasing e-mobility.

Renishaw systems at MADIT Metal's facility. Photo via Renishaw.
Renishaw systems at MADIT Metal’s facility. Photo via Renishaw.

3D printing the electric motorbike transmission

The design of the transmission of an electric motorcycle presents several challenges, particularly as electric motors develop high torque which needs to be reduced in order to drive the vehicle. To solve this problem, the UDMT team designed a double-stage transmission system to allow a smoother reduction in engine torque.

The students turned to MADIT Metal’s 3D printing capabilities to print the transmission after suppliers capable of machining the components were forced to close during the pandemic. 

MADIT Metal acquired two RenAM 500M systems from Renishaw in September 2020. The machines were chosen to print parts for the project due to its automated process and subsequent productivity improvements. The systems were equipped with InfiniAM Central process monitoring and control software, and laser and melt pool quality control software InfiniAM Spectral.

The main benefit of using the RenAM 500M system for the production of the transmission, according to the UDMT team, was the reduction in delivery times of the components. As a result of more than one component able to be manufactured on the system, the team also observed reduced manufacturing costs and were able to print a greater number of spare parts. 

The 3D printed parts were also 30 percent lighter than those manufactured conventionally, yielding vital speed and acceleration gains for the motorcycle when in use.

Parts manufactured by MADIT Metal in stainless steel (SS316L). Photo via Renishaw.
Parts manufactured by MADIT Metal in stainless steel (SS316L). Photo via Renishaw.

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Featured image shows UMDT’s electric motorcycle equipped with a 3D printed transmission. Photo via Renishaw.

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