BigRep unveils Nera, a 3D printed, fully functional e-bike
Devin JonesAdditive Manufacturing Automotive Additive Manufacturing
As a prototype, the 15 part motorcycle is fully functional and was developed using a Fused Filament Fabrication process.
Eventually coming to a shop near you (probably not) is a e-bike straight out of Tron. Dubbed “Nera,” it’s a fully-functional electric motorcycle that, outside of electrical components, is created entirely from an additive manufacturing process.
According to BigRep the German manufacturer and NOWlab (their consultancy and innovation lab) the Nera features airless tires, 3D printed rims, frame, fork, and seat. The e-bike was designed by two NOWlab experts, Product Designer Mattia Cristofori and Maximilian Sedlak, an Applications Specialist and Parametric Designer.
While we have seen e-bikes with AM parts in the past—the Zero S for example, or APWorks’ Light Rider—the company maintains that Nera is the first fully 3D-printed model using a fused filament fabrication (FFF) process and BigReps large-scale printers.
“The NERA combines several innovations developed by NOWlab, such as the airless tire, functional integration and embedded sensor technology,” said Daniel Büning, Co-Founder and Managing Director of NOWlab. “This bike and our other prototypes push the limits of engineering creativity and will reshape AM technology as we know it.”
At this point, the Nera is just a prototype and more of a toy than anything. There’s no suspension, instead utilizing “flexible bumpers,” that allow the bike to absorb bumps. That being said, it’s an interesting experiment for the future of large-scale industrialized additive manufacturing. Nera is powered by an electric engine housed in a 3D printed case, and while specs on the Nera are slim, there are a few interesting tidbits to pour over. Using their large-scale printers, BigRep used ProHT, ProFLEX, PETH, and PLA filaments with a 0.6-1mm nozzle at a layer height of 0.4-0.6mm. Additionally, the bike came together in 15 3D printed parts and weighs 132 pounds.
The FFF process of designing 3D printed parts typically works off of a heated thermoplastic squeezed through an extruder, which uses a torque and pincer method for accurate measurements. Layered from the bottom up, the filament comes in contact with a heating block and eventually funneled down to a heated nozzle before being deposited onto the print bed.
There’s another term often used in conjunction with FFF, which is FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling. The two are very similar, separated by a trademark claim by Stratysys Inc. who developed the initial process in 1989, but there are some distinct differences. Depending on who you talk to, RepRap, the company who pushed this FFF movement, saw Fused Filament Fabrication as a way to write and discuss the technology without infringing on any copyright claims.
We probably won’t see a commercial release of the Nera, but regardless, it’s an interesting feat of AM engineering and by golly is it ever cool to look at.