Last week, TheFabricator.com reported a 3D printing success story about VIBA, a French motorcycle manufacturer. VIBA wanted to make a limited-edition mini bike in homage to the iconic Honda Monkey, which they decided to call “Jane.”

The team faced one problem, however; they wanted to make the Jane in a run of just 23 bikes. Such a small manufacturing volume meant that the machined metal parts typically used in motorcycle manufacturing would be prohibitively expensive.

The solution to their problem came in the form of 3D printed metal. Not only did the 3D printed metal parts cost substantially less per unit than their traditionally manufactured alternatives, but they also did not require any tooling, molds or lead times. The combined cost and time benefits of 3D metal printing allowed VIBA to produce a fun and innovative homage to a cult favorite that would otherwise have been impossible to manufacture.

In addition, the versatility offered by 3D printing allowed the VIBA team to take a novel approach to designing the Jane. Because 3D printers can create complex geometries that would not be possible to machine, designers were able to combine multi-piece assemblies into single parts, like the Jane’s combination mudguard/headlight support. They were also able to create hollow levers which allow wiring for signal lights to pass through.

Perhaps the most exciting part of VIBA’s Jane is the 3D printed aluminum gas tank, which has a unique internal honeycomb design  To begin with, this lightweight design is printed in a single piece and eliminates the welding required by traditional gas tanks.

But it’s the functional benefits to riders that really set this gas tank apart. By breaking up the interior space of the gas tank, the honeycomb structure prevents gas from sloshing back and forth as the bike jostles around, keeping the bike more balanced and creating a smoother ride.

VIBA’s story is a great example of how 3D printing can provide businesses with cost-effective and innovative design solutions. At RapidMade, we are dedicated to helping our customers achieve their manufacturing goals using the most advanced technologies on the market. Click here to learn more about our 3D printing services.

Congratulations to VIBA on making such an exciting product!

The folks at 3DPrint.com recently reported that BMW Group used the HP Multi Jet Fusion to print their millionth 3D printed car part. According to the article, BMW Group has been using additive manufacturing technologies for the last 25 years. The number of 3D printed parts in their manufacturing operations has risen sharply, with an estimated 200,000 parts to be printed in 2018—a 42% increase since last year.

So what was the millionth part? A 3D printed window guide rail for the BMW i8 roadster. According to 3DPrint.com, the guide rail was developed in just five days and is part of the first wave of parts being printed by the Multi Jet Fusion for BMW. It’s far from the only part BMW produces using additive manufacturing, however. They also use SLS and other technologies to produce plastic and metal parts for many of their vehicles, including made-to-order custom parts for their customers. Per the article, Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW Group, currently uses 10 different 3D printed parts for their cars.

While many car manufacturers use additive manufacturing to produce tooling, BMW Group has been a pioneer in using 3D print technologies to create the parts themselves. They first started using 3D printers to make parts in 2010. In 2012, they began using SLS to manufacture parts for the Rolls-Royce Phantom. And it doesn’t look like they have any plans to slow down. This year, they built an entire Additive Manufacturing Campus, so keep an eye on more 3D printing innovations to come.

Here at RapidMade, we know firsthand how effective the HP Multi Jet Fusion is at manufacturing high-performance 3D printed parts faster and at less cost than any other 3D printer on the market. Still, it’s exciting to see world-class engineers like those at BMW Group taking advantage of such a promising technology.

If you’d like to see how Multi Jet Fusion printing or any of our manufacturing services could help your business, get started today by filling out our quote form. We’ll get back to you with a quote in 24 hours or less!

RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton

RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton

Kudos to Oregon Business Magazine for its feature, Women’s Work, which details the chronic gender gap that continues in manufacturing. The article is based on interviews with female professionals in trade organizations, manufacturing firms, and higher education.

Together they show how improving gender representation requires a concerted approach from across the industry to reshape an institutionalized culture of gender-based segregation and redefine archaic norms of what work women can and cannot do.

Strategies proposed include:

  • Advising businesses that diversity will ease the labor shortage and improve the bottom line.

  • Promoting manufacturing careers to female students and professionals.

  • Providing supportive networks, like Women in Manufacturing and Oregon Tradeswomen, to help women secure employment and businesses find and retain female employees.

  • Breaking down the “bro culture” prevalent in manufacturing.

RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton, a Women in Manufacturing chair of its Oregon chapter was among the women featured in the article. RapidMade is a Portland-based additive manufacturing (3D printing) and engineering services firm.

The truck is reserved; the boxes are being packed, and we are counting down the hours - not days - until our move this Friday.  Just a reminder to customers with pending quotes, orders and deliveries, we will be working through Thursday (tomorrow) and packing tomorrow night for Friday's move.  If necessary, we will continue to run rush orders at our old location to ensure delivery dates are met.  Otherwise, we plan to move and install all equipment this weekend with a rolling start up on Monday.

If you have a concern about a specific 3D printing or engineering and design job, please don't hesitate to call our office - or better yet, email us, and we will respond - assuming we are not driving a large truck on I5 South.

Wish us luck!