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Electric Motorcycle Utilizes Rapid Prototyping

Posted on: April 17th, 2014 by The Technology House

We recently helped The Ohio State University Electric Motorcycle team, known as Buckeye Current, on prototyping pieces for their new motorcycle.  Buckeye Current was founded by students in 2010 through the Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research.  The objective of this team is to provide students experience with electric vehicles and to construct a fully operable electric motorcycle to compete in races on both the national and international level.

We first came in contact with Buckeye Current when they required 3D printed parts for their electronic enclosures.  We printed parts through the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process.  We asked Polina Brodsky, a team member and mechanical engineer student, the following questions on these 3D printed parts.

3D printed parts for motorcycles

Why was the FDM Process Chosen?
The FDM process was chosen to make our electronics enclosures because we needed more than just a black box form radio shack to house all of the custom made, home-built electronics. All of the boards on our bike have connectors with specific sealed panel opening requirements and have buttons and LEDs that need to be accessible. Because of this, the FDM process was chosen to make our boxes. This process is inexpensive, has low tooling costs and provides crisp, well tolerance parts that ensure the functionality of our custom electronics enclosures.

What Were the Prototypes Used For?
These prototypes were used to house our custom CAN data-logging and home-made BMS that monitor our battery pack on the electric motorcycle and log valuable data from our race at the Isle of Man.

3D printed prototypes

What Did You Learn from the Prototypes
The teams’ CAD surfacing skills improved in designing these creative enclosures, as well as our mindset of minimalistic design.  We had to sacrifice aesthetics for using less material and making stronger parts.

How Did the Prototypes Improve Your Product?
These prototypes gave the bike a professional look and ensured that the custom electronics we worked so hard on had the proper housing on our TT bike.

Buckeye Current

Last year, the team placed 3rd in their inaugural effort at the TT Zero race.  Their motorcycle, The RW-2, averaged a speed of 90.43 mph.  The team looks to build on this great achievement at the 2014 TT Zero.  We wish them the best of luck in their upcoming races, and are proud to have helped.

Click here to learn more about Buckeye Current.

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