Airbus designed and 3D printed a motorbike inspired by a skeleton

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Nice bike.

In reality, the 3D-printed frame was inspired by skeletal structures that enable its bare-metal frame to weigh just 13 pounds but support a 220 pound rider

Sooooo…useless for the majority of motorcycle riders (myself included, were I to ever consider riding a motorcycle).

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Ever since I heard of genetic algorithms decades ago I’ve been waiting for designs like this, and I’m glad manufacturing processes are finally starting to catch up.

Airbus designed and 3D printed a motorbike inspired by a skeleton
Neat. I think I've got a concussion again. I read that as "Airbus designed and 3D printed a motorbike inspired by a skeleton", which makes sense on no levels.


It looks like a bio-mimicry version of how Ducati does their frames. Nifty!

most bikers weight over 100 kg?!?

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Not sure what bikers you’re familiar with.


It makes slightly more sense than “Skeleton designed and 3D printed an Airbus inspired by a motorbike.”


It’s disappointing that they’re charging so much for what could be a big step in reducing emissions and road congestion. It’s heavier than my electric bike by a fair amount, but a small fraction of what many gas-powered motorbikes weigh.


It makes me wonder what amount of the asking price is the way the frame is printed. I searched around, and it looks like stock Ducati Monster frames weigh 30 lbs, and some custom ones weigh 13-20 lbs.

What does this sound like at 45 mph? My guess is kind of whistley… All those holes and airflow.

I don’t want a motorcycle that weighs a lot less than I do.

One word: Crosswind.


Preface: I have worked with additive metals for the past 7 years (R&D, low/high volume manufacturing, etc)

This was most likely printed with the DMLS (SLM/SLS/whatever the hell acronym you want to use) process. For starters… it’s not printed as one piece. You can see the thick spots where they welded the different pieces together. This is because MOST laser-powder-bed printers are still limited to ~10"x10"x14" build volume. There are a couple larger machines out there, but I’d bet this was printed on a standard size machine. Staying optimistic, lets say there are 10 individual pieces to the frame and rear swing arm (although counting, it looks more like 14).
Typical DMLS pricing is anywhere from $80-150/ print hour thru service bureaus. Printing large structures like this at 60 micron layers, I would estimate around ~18 hours per part. So 10pieces x 18 hours x $80 = $14,400 JUST FOR PRINT TIME. Now add in your raw material, post processing, remaining bike parts… Scalmalloy is an “Airbus” alloy (actually developed by EADS), but being less commonly available increases price. Also, you aren’t purchasing raw blocks of material… you need gas-atomized powder. Powder prices are all over the place. Stainless steel can be had for ~$50/kg while titanium is $300/kg. I would guess this powder is on par with titanium, but we’ll be generous and say $200/kg. Frame weighs just under 6kg (there will be additional material waste for supports). So we add $1200 for material.
In the DMLS process, the parts are welded to the start plate (most DIY plastic printers print on glass or tape and parts pop right off). To remove DMLS parts, the typical way is wire EDM (or use a bandsaw if you go the quick and dirty route). Then there is manual support removal, media blasting or polishing, and welding. Finally after all that, you have a frame. Realisticaly, those would all add up another $5k, but lets stay optimistic and say $1500.
All said and done, your total is:
$14,400 Printing
$1,200 Material
$1,500 Post processing
$? Motor, brakes, fuel tank, wheels, tires, etc

$17,100 + All non printed Parts

*Cost of having the most unique bike in the world… priceless… for everything else, there’s master card.

Remember we stayed VERY optimistic thru this calculation. I wouldn’t be surprised if just the frame was $30,000 to manufacture.

Also, I’m not a fan of this whole “inspired by skeleton” BS. It’s called topology optimization. It’s basically utilizing non-symmetric structures to reduce mass while maintaining the strength required. It’s possible to throw out the old machinists handbook because you can simply print the weird shapes that are usually not possible with subtractive technology.



Stop messing about, remove word “concept”, cost reduce and get this thing into production, because it is exactly what I need. Doublepluswant.

Most of the world’s adults weigh under 100kg with full bike gear, by the way.

Crosswinds? Should be fine. what matters isn’t really weight but geometry, aerodynamics and side cross section. The weight of the motor etc. is all in the right place, low down behind the front wheel. There are big holes to let the wind blow through.


It has an 8ps engine, which is a bit more than most electric bikes, and a weight of 35kg.
For comparison, a comparable small motorcycle of the 1960s, the Triumph Tiger Cub, also put out about 8ps if you wanted it to get you any distance, and weighed 100kg. It lacked indicators and all the plastic and metal that adorns modern Chinese small bikes. I know someone who has tried to build an ultra-lightweight based on the Honda 110cc design of engine, and when last I heard it was around 75kg.

This is deeply impressive but the price is ridiculous.


I have a feeling that the hump on the top is only there to make it look motorcycle-ish and not really structural.

Thanks for the additional info :slight_smile:

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