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3D Printing Progress
Posted on December 31, 2020 by  & 

NERA: World's First Fully 3D Printed E-Bike

The NERA e-motorcycle started with an idea: create a functional prototype that revolutionizes mobility and can be produced entirely with 3D printing. NERA is fully 3D printed, only 15 parts.
 
With Marco Mattia Cristofori in the design lead at BigRep, NERA e-Bike was engineered from the ground up, disrupting traditional design, engineering and production in every aspect. The result is a 100-percent, customizable, functional prototype, designed and produced with more time- and cost- efficiency than previously imaginable.
 
In building NERA, BigRep's designers and engineers envisioned a bike designed for large-format FFF technology. Prototyping for standard manufacturing methods has extremely limited design possibilities when it comes to mechanical functions, as well as to the design language of objects. For further information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printed Materials Market 2020-2030: COVID Edition.
 
First the team arranged the functionally relevant core parts, then design the outer shell. The battery, motor, cable and control systems are not printed. The motor is electric since traditional combustion engines cannot be embedded in polymer objects. The electronics can be adjusted individually and are integrated as a modular system that allows individual settings.
 
 
NERA is printed with BigRep Pro Flex, BigRep ProHT, BigRep PLA, and BigRep PETG materials. While the team use ProHT for rigid parts, PLA for color details and PETG for the light reflectors, Pro Flex allows users to embed functionalities in a unique way. Tires, bumper, seat and handles are printed with the flexible material and fulfill functions that usually require complex mechanical constructions such as hydraulic, shock absorbing suspension systems. Instead of a fork steering, NERA has eight pivot points, clamping vertically instead of assembling the fork to rotate the wheel on a horizontal axis.
 
The design team used 12 percent infill almost everywhere. This was determined by testing several small portions and then determining that 12 percent is the perfect fit for structural stability.
 
In total the design features include 15 fully 3d printed parts:
  • Fully-functional, full-scale 3D printed prototype
  • All parts printed with BigRep printers (except electronics), including body, rims, tires, steering, seat, headlight and shocks
  • Flexible parametric bumper replaces suspension as a shock absorber
  • Custom-fitted seat and chest rest printed with flexible thermoplastic
  • Airless tires with customized tread printed with flexible thermoplastic
  • Front tire has an arch structure for a softer, smoother ride
  • Back tire has a stronger hexagonal structure for load-bearing parts
 
 
More than just an exercise in what can be achieved with 3D printing - and specifically FFF printing with BigRep technology - the NERA shows that the low cost and fast results of additive manufacturing allow designers to immediately test prototypes and rapidly produce iterations of experimental engineering. The NERA also illustrates the massive benefits that 3D printing offers to produce functional parts, particularly for unique- to small-series production, by reducing lead times and costs, optimizing supply chains and limiting dependency on supplier networks.
 
Daniel Büning, Co-Founder and Managing Director of NOWLAB, explains, "Our NERA E-Motorcycle is the perfect example of the disruptive capabilities of additive manufacturing in the mobility sector. The bike is the result of a radical new approach to product development, seamlessly spanning digital simulation to custom manufacturing. Therefore, NERA combines several innovations developed by NOWLAB such as the airless tire, functional integration, and embedded sensor technology. We push the limits of engineering creativity to reshape additive manufacturing technology as we know it."
 
Source and top image: BigRep
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