Inside a group of charming but nondescript industrial buildings just down the road from Enzo Ferrarri Park in Modena, Italy, a company which got its start building cutting-edge parts for Formula One cars is working on a project which demonstrates the capabilities of 3D printing in the most demanding motor racing applications.
The Energica is an Italian electric motorcycle capable of reaching a top speed (limited) of 137 mph and climbs up from 0-60 mph in a rather eyeball-flattening 3.2 seconds.
There is a whole armada of high-performance motorcycles on the market, but now Italian manufacturer CRP Group has plans to offer an all-electric superbike starting in 2015. The Energica includes an array of 3D-printed and cutting-edge CNC-machined parts.
The Energica's fairings, intake manifold, cooling ducts, seat and a variety of other parts are 3D printed.
Back in 1970, Italian engineer Roberto Cevolini opened up a shop to supply Formula 1 auto racing teams with frame parts, gearboxes and engine components, and in 1996, Cevolini's son Franco led the company to branch out into materials engineering through rapid prototyping. That marked the birth of Cevolini Rapid Prototyping.
As a result of that outgrowth the younger Cevolini developed a composite, polyamide-based material he called Windform. Windform is used to make structures which will withstand strong forces when laser sintered.
Cevolini says Windform XT2.0 is a high-performance 3D-printing material strong enough to replace carbon-fiber-reinforced composites in some motorsports applications, and it's used extensively in the Energica e-bike. Cevolini says the 3D-printed parts made of Windform require almost no post-processing for use, but adds that they can be polished to create a shiny finish.
Energica rolled out the bike to the world's motorcycle press last week and the testing period will continue through September 18.
"Energica represents the first high-performance Italian prototype of an electric street bike coming from the passion and experience of CRP Group, and it counts on relevant technical partners who have experience with F1 technologies and 3D Printing process," said Sales and Marketing Manager Livia Cevolini. "CRP is one of the leading 3D-printing practitioners in Italy, and together with Windform materials, we can create state-of-the-art projects for high-performing sectors where impressive mechanical properties and strong aesthetics are required. The Energica concept came from eCRP 1.4, the runner-up World Champion and European Champion electric racing motorcycle."