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Record-setting electric motorcycle speeds ahead with 3D printing

26 October 2016

Dr. Eva Hakansson sets world records with her custom-built electric motorcycle named KillaJoule, aided by LulzBot 3D printers, she achieved a speed of 248.746mph.

Dr. Eva Hakansson poses with the world's fastest electric motorcycle, KillaJoule (Credit: Lulzbot)

Her world record is currently 248.746mph and with more 3D printed improvements in development, you will need all the luck you can get to catch her.

“The real purpose of the KillaJoule is what I call eco-activism in disguise,” Hakansson said. “We want to change the general public opinion about electric vehicles and particularly changing the image that they're slow … by building something that is so fast that nobody can ignore it.”

Hakansson, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, USA, also uses KillaJoule to show that women can be engineers.

After spending 360 days a year working on KillaJoule with some help from her husband, Bill Dubé, Hakansson heads to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA for five days of racing the last week of August every year. There, she shows off her handiwork, which features 3D printed parts made on a LulzBot 3D printer.

“There is no more wonderful, beautiful way of creating aerodynamic parts like spoilers, leading edges, and so on than 3D printing,” Håkansson said. “3D printing is the absolute optimal way of doing that.”

Aerodynamic shapes such as these are for the side car and are printed in PLA, which is biodegradable. The speedometer housing is printed out of INOVA-1800, a premium material Håkansson loves.

“It prints beautifully, it's strong, the surface finish is great, and the print quality is great,” Håkansson said.

The versatility of the LulzBot 3D printer with being able to print so many different materials is a benefit for Håkansson, as is the low cost of materials.

“If you compare what it costs to have parts made or the time you would spend machining something similar or building it with using other methods, 3D printed parts are super cheap,” Hakansson said. “You can have maybe a 24-hour print, but you don't have to watch it for 24 hours. You just load it and then you go and do something else, so we consider the machine time almost free.”

With reliability, the LulzBot TAZ 3D printer is going to be used in Hakansson's next project: A new bike that will hopefully have even more 3D printed parts.

In the meantime, Hakansson appreciates the value of having the LulzBot 3D printer for use in creating KillaJoule.

“It's opened a whole new dimension of manufacturing,” Hakansson said. “You can do things you can't even dream of making otherwise.”

Video courtesy of University of Denver. 

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