CRP Technology 3D prints dashboard and seat prototypes for Energica Ego electric motorcycle using Windform materials

CRP Technology has harnessed 3D printing to accelerate the product development of the dashboard and seats of the Energica Ego electric motorcycle.

The Energica project was kick-started by the Cevolini family, who own the CRP Group, and thus has sought to capitalise on the CRP Technology’s Windform composite materials and familiarity with 3D printing. During the development of the Ego model, CRP utilised the laser sintering process and its Windform materials to produce prototypes of the motorcycle components, bringing the bike to market more quickly.

Energica wanted to create a dashboard capable of containing, protecting and isolating complex electronics. After carrying out studies and tests, the company wanted a 4.3” dashboard with a display boasting excellent visibility and 16.7 million active matrix colours. With a ‘real Human Machine Interface’ the dashboard supports flow of information and interactivity with the vehicle system, providing an extensive menu of configurations and advanced user diagnostics. It was eventually manufactured with traditional injection moulding techniques, but beforehand would see three functional prototypes produced by CRP Technology.

The prototypes were all built with Windform LX 3.0, a polyamide-based composite material reinforced with glass-fibres, delivering sample models within two days compared to the previous five months it would have taken. At the first attempt, the dashboard shell was produced in separate components, with the electronics assembled and secured with mastic/ glue. Then it was passed on to Energica who tested it by mounting it directly on the bike and taken on the road. Energica reported back that the prototype performed well in conditions of extreme stress, and was suitable for protecting the electronic components thanks in large part to the non-conductive Windform LX 3.0 material.

During the second prototyping phase, the model was painted so colour tests could be carried out. The third prototype was a hybrid version, enabling precise assembly tests to be conducted. This model saw the lower part made with 3D printing using the LX 3.0 material, and upper part made with plastic injection. Tests once again generated positive results, both parts were assembled without problems and the plastic injection tolerances calculated are the same as those of the Windform composite material.

The dashboard prototypes, per CRP Technology, were put through ‘every kind of stress’ during the test rides, and allowed the Energica team to examine the application and refine the design ahead of final part production. It also saved them time and money.

As did the prototypes produced for the driver and passenger seats, which again benefitted from laser sintering technology, but this time the Windform RL rubber-like composite and Windform GT materials were used.

CRP Technology approached this prototyping task knowing the comfort of the seats were of utmost importance, as were the aesthetics. The RL material was therefore used for the soft part of the seat, while the GT material was used for the seat frame, such is its resistance and elasticity. The seat frame, in particular, needed to be resistant enough to support the soft part that bears the weight of the rider. These two parts were then bonded, coated and fixed with staples.

Testing of the first prototype alerted Energica to a slight bending of the seat that went beyond the initial intent. To address this a ribbed structure made with Windform GT was added to the base of the seat to stiffen the component. The soft seat made with the RL material for the first prototype, meanwhile, was replaced by foam. Tests of the second prototype satisfied Energica, and the mould makers then got the nod to proceed with manufacturing the final design.

Operating out of Italy, Energica is a manufacturer of supersport electric motorcycles, and as a subsidiary of the CRP Group, maintains a healthy relationship with the Technology division. Energica not only benefits from the CRP Technology’s expertise in 3D printing and high-performance materials, but also the Group’s vast experience in motor racing, supplying technological solutions to F1, Moto GP, Rally Raid and ALMS teams.

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