Jonathan Brand 3D Prints a Motorcycle

Jonathan Brand is a designer and artist and, it appears, a bit of a frustrated gearhead.

His projects push materials to their limits. He's made a full-sized 1969 Mustang from paper and a Honda CB 500 motorcycle built from plastics with his pair of Ultimaker 3D printers.

"When I was living in Brooklyn and checking online, Honda CB's were really plentiful and affordable. So I decided when we moved out of the city, I'd buy one," Brand said. "But life has interesting ways of changing your mind sometimes. With the birth of my son – and my being slightly accident prone – I decided a plastic motorcycle might be a better way to spend my time and energy."

Brand, following on the heels of his Paper 1969 Mustang, decided to make one of the motorcycles he'd considered buying. To date, he's printed everything but the motor and one exhaust pipe. He says most of the parts have yet to be assembled and glued together. While another project has intruded on the completion of the motorcycle (and I know from experience other concerns have a way halting work on motorcycles) Brand is determined to loop back and finish the project.

"I try and keep the printers printing when I'm in the studio and don't mind them competing for attention in the background," Brand said. "I own two Ultimaker 3D printers. I've had them almost exactly a year. The learning curve for the type of object I'm printing was pretty steep and I push them pretty hard, so I really need two so that I always have one working when I need it."

Working from his studio on Orange St. in New Haven, CT, Brand says his space "looks out on a busy intersection with a market, coffee shop and liquor store, everything you could possibly need in one spot."

Born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, Brand earned his BA from the University of Guelph, Ontario, and then went on to complete his masters degree work at Yale University. After living in Brooklyn, NY, following grad school, Brand moved back to settle down in New Haven.

"One of the biggest hurdles I have with my work is that people think it's instant – I just hit 'print'. Most articles in the news gloss over how difficult it is to get a file ready to print – then the difficulty of printing it – or how expensive the good software and printers are," Brand says. "The problem right now is that you have to have both. Good software and hardware and a lot of knowledge in both areas. I think most users can either make the digital file and have someone print it, or they can print but not make a good model. I spend a lot of time looking at what's happening and I think both software and printers are quite a few years out of really being as simple to use as Microsoft Word and an inkjet printer."