Last year I did some work at a company call Divergent 3D in Southern California. They are on the cutting edge of 3D manufacturing and can pretty much print any material—I mean ANY. The technology can print Titanium, Aluminum, steel, types of Carbon, and all sorts of plastic. They built a prototype car using this technology and even a pretty sick one-piece motorcycle frame with no welds.
The idea is genius. Imagine building a swingarm that has webbing or any sort of bracing internally, a process that can’t be achieved using traditional manufacturing, eg, extrusion, casting, or forging. This means the overall weight could be reduced and still achieve the same strength and maybe better overall flex characteristics.
With the total number of motocross and off-road bikes on the slight decline and the cost of 3D printing to eventually decline, the idea of 3D-printed components could be on the horizon.
We also just spotted a post on a Japanese site called Young-Machine that featured a 2019 Kawasaki KX450 with several 3D-printed components such as fenders and side panels and radiator shrouds.
The technology is here or almost here, but will it work for our application will be determined. I could easily see Factory Teams use this type of tech for Works bikes for special parts. It’s possible to print an entire frame in one piece that will not have any welds and can have internal webbing, gussets, or any sort of honeycomb internally. The process could create a frame that could achieve the perfect flex across the board and possibly be lighter. More titanium and carbon or carbon blends could be utilized because very little machine work would be needed after printing and waste would be kept to a minimum.
Times are changing fast and it’s only a matter of time before 3D printing is introduced into the sport for the public to use.
Here is the link to the story from Young-Machine and Divergent 3D.
The below video talks about the motorcycle frame at the 13min mark
Here is an older video that talks about 3D printing
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