3D Printing Used for Prototyping Indian Motorcycles

One could hardly believe that Indian Motorcycles, a synonym for tradition and retro heritage in fact owes a lot to one of the most recent breakthroughs in industrial design: 3D printing. I know it sounds a bit off, but you don’t necessarily have to believe me, it’s Polaris CEO Scott Wine who says it.
2014 Indian Chief Classic 1 photo
Photo: Indian Motorcycles
In order to revive the oldest motorcycle brand in the US, Polaris assembled an exceptional team made of professionals from multiple walks of life, from designers and engineers to programmers and “less-motorcycley” individuals. While back in the day, prototyping such a motorcycle would have taken around 15 months, 3D printing helped the Indian team complete the task in only 3 months.

3D printing helped having parts “demoed” much faster and the distance between the sketch to the CAD plans and to a physical part which could be assembled into a larger one. And since Indian was about to release not one, not two, but three motorcycles on a deadline, you can figure out that such a bold endeavor could not have been possible without 3D printing.

Basically, 3D printing replaced much of the clay modelling and tooling process and produced more accurate models. The clay sculptors’ job was eased by Stratasys 3D printers and pretty much each piece of the bike was being readied as the rest of them were being designed.

The goal was even more ambitious as the three new motorcycles, the Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and the Chieftain are completely new machines, and not upgrades of the existing vehicles. This translates in having to create them from scrap, with only the major design cues of some retro model being retained for continuity purposes.

Indian’s new motorcycles also received a completely new engine, the Thunder Stroke 111, boasting 111cui (1819cc) and better performance than any other older version. Following the successful example of Indian, we might expect that more manufacturers will start using 3D printers for accelerating and improving the development of new motorcycles.

Source 3dprintingindustry
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