Sarolea electric superbike, 3D printing from prototyping to production.

Author: Matt Tyson/Monday, 2 March 2020/Categories: 3D Printing News, 3D Printing Applications

Sarolea electric superbike, 3D printing from prototyping to production.

Additive manufacturing has had a positive impact across the automotive industry, from rapid prototyping to manufacturing of jigs and tooling. Advancement in technical materials have further enabled companies to deliver end-use 3D printed parts with high performance.

Sarolea are a motorcycle brand with a rich history dating back to 1892, in the 1960's they ceased production. Revived in 2008, the Sarolea brand is based in Belgium and focuses entirely on 100% electric racing and road bikes.

Developed from the ground up, Sarolea motorcycles are manufactured with in-house technologies originally developed for track racing bikes.  Focused on racing, Sarolea completed R&D for four years on the Isle of Man TT Zero race and gained notable popularity. Alongside development of their race bike, Sarolea developed a refined road going version of their Manx 7 race bike which is capable of traveling up to 240km/hr and with 900 newton meters on the rear wheel.

Since day one Polymakers technical 3D printing materials empowered Sarolea through each stage of design and production, and ultimately Sarolea developed a close technical partnership with Polymaker.

We use the Polymaker filaments during the design process to check components and assemblies. We also use printing as rapid tooling to create moulds for carbon fibre components and thanks to the incredible high quality of Polymaker filament and the expertise of their engineers, certain components on our racing and production bikes are accurately printed. Components that are inhibitively complex and onerous to make with traditional production processes.– Rob Mitchell, Sarolea

With 3D printing Sarolea have been able to rapidly iterate and refine their design with complete freedom and flexibility. Producing these parts in-house delivers low cost prototyping with a shorter lead time. Sarolea chose Polymakers PolyMax™ PLA and PolyMax™ PETG filaments for prototyping to quickly verify appearance and functionality. Produced with Polymakers nano-reinforcement technology, the PolyMax™ family of filaments are ideal for prototyping and manufacturing applications thanks to their excellent reliability and toughness.

The entire bodywork for the Manx 7 electric superbike was prototyped using PolyMax™ PLA and with the N60 model, Sarolea used PolyMax™ PETG for bodywork prototyping. Compared to PolyMax™ PLA, PolyMax™ PETG offers an additional 20°C heat resistance and is easier to sand and polish, two features that allowed Sarolea to print and test bodywork with a professional finish. 

With high performance Raise3D 3D printers and technical Polymaker materials, Sarolea have been able to produce in-house production solutions, manufacturing solutions and moulds.

Mould printed in PolyMide™ CoPA.

Both the Manx 7 and N60 feature a carbon fiber monocoque chasis, this requires a number of intricate moults that help with the lay up of the carbon fibre. Sarolea use PolyMide™ CoPA to 3D print the moulds which are used to produce final end-use parts in carbon fibre. The PolyMide™ CoPA moulds can withstand the high heat and pressures involved in the vacuum curing process while the carbon fiber is baked in the autoclave.

PolyMax™ PETG is also widely used to make production tools, jigs and fixtures necessary when assembling the bikes. Printing these parts in-house has effectively reduced the production cycle and enabled low-cost manufacturing of custom manufacturing tools.

 PolyMax™ PETG mould that helps with the layup of the carbon fiber.

New innovations in technical and industrial 3D printing materials have unlocked 3D printing for manufacturing and production of aftermarket parts. With Polymakers advanced range of technical and performance filaments, Sarolea print a number of end-use 3D printed parts of their bikes.

Cell holder printed in Polymaker™ PC-PBT.

With PolyMax™ PC-FR Sarolea have been able to 3D print flame retardant fixtures and holdings for the many high voltage circuits and wires that are necessary to run the bike. Polymaker™ PC-PBT which is suitable for applications requiring resistance to intermittent contact with many lubricants, solvents, fuels, oils, cleaning agents, and other automotive-type chemicals is used to 3D print cell holders for custom-made batteries and PolyMide™ PA6-CF which features Polymakers warp-free™ technology and a heat deflection temperature up to 215˚C is used widely in the high velocity air flows.

 Air duct printed in PolyMide™ PA6-CF.

From prototyping to final production, Polymakers range of professional materials have been an invaluable tool. The technical partnership between the two companies have enabled Sarolea to further push the boundaries of vehicle electrification with relentless innovation. At this time Sarolea are further developing their race bike, with a plan to complete the full 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021.

Sarolea N60 on display at Formnext 2019


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