The Italian manufacturer Thok presented a prototype of a lightweight electric mountain bike whose frame was 3D printed, on the occasion of Eurobike 2023. The brand explains how beneficial this method has been for the development of the project.
The Eurobike 2023, located in Frankfurt, was an opportunity for the manufacturer Thok to partly capture the media spotlight. The reason for this: the Thok Project P4, a lightweight electric mountain bike presented in prototype form and whose frame has been 3D printed. A method on which the group gives interesting explanations.
To start, Thok surrounded itself with a partner of choice to support it in this project: Materialise, a Belgian company specializing in 3D printing in the aerospace, automotive and medical fields. Here, a specific method was used: SLM, for Selective Laser Melting, or selective laser melting in French.
Mimic carbon as much as possible
Printing in SLM consists of creating parts “by agglutinating metal powder particles by a total melting process“With the help of a laser beam in particular, can we read on the specialized site Sculpteo.
For its Project P4, Thok in this case used an alloy of aluminum and silicon, because it is considered “more suitable in terms of strengths, thermal properties and weight“, we read on its official website. This brings it many advantages on several levels, whether technically or economically.
First, the so-called SLM method allows Thok to print a light frame, whose weight is thus able to stick as much as possible to a carbon fiber frame, which the final version will be entitled to. As a reminder, carbon is a material renowned for its lightness.
saving time and money
According to Thok, designing carbon prototypes is time-consuming and expensive. 3D printing is therefore a relevant alternative to save both money and time. The brand can thus test a whole bunch of prototypes with different geometries, and can be very agile in adjusting or modifying them.
In addition to expanding the possibilities, Thok can afford to multiply the tests over shorter periods of time than usual. In short, an interesting optimization for any company looking to quickly put an electric bike on the market, while guaranteeing its reliability.
For the moment, the Project P4 is still in development: certain technical choices are being evaluated, indicates the brand, whether in terms of the integration of the battery, the configuration of the components or the geometry of the model.
Bosch to report
What is certain, however, is that this lightweight VTTAE will be equipped with Bosch’s new engine, the Performance Line SX, which is intended precisely for this type of two-wheeler – but also for gravels and urban electric bikes. A wide choice of battery (400, 500, 625 and 750 Wh) should also be possible.
The Thok Project P4 is expected for the year 2024. According to the brand, it is the very first full-suspension electric mountain bike to benefit from 3D printing in SLM for its design phase. Hoping now that the final version of the bike scores as much as this method.
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