By Staff | 3ders
Orange County Choppers (OCC), a company located in Orange County, New York, has built two custom motorcycles (or "choppers" in the motorcycle world) for a Chinese client, using a Stratasys Fortus 400mc large commercial 3D printer. On March 27, these two dragon-themed choppers were on display at a shopping mall in Nanjing, China.
In response to an ambitious request from a Chinese customer, known as Michael, OCC designed the bike in the shape of a Chinese dragon.
According to Jason Pohl, graphic artist and designer for OCC, the most challenging part was the dragon's head, which needs to express character, emotion, and anger.
– - OCC Designer John Pohl
"This dragon is angry. It has power. It has character. How do we make that? When it all came down, there was only one option. And that was to print the head out"
The dragon's head was designed in 3D Studio Max graphic design software with an incredible amount of detail, including finely stylized horns, teeth, eyelids, gums and nostrils.
With 3D modeling tools and 3D printing, Pohl drew up the dragon's head freely without worrying about the production process. "What's great about additive manufacturing is that you can work with the solid model created during the design process without any additional preparation," said Pohl.
"You export an STL file and send it over to the printer and go on to your next job. The Fortus produces a perfect replica of the solid model without any operator supervision or tooling. We often use the sparse fill build to substantially reduce the weight of parts." Pohl said of the build process.
The designer stated that in the past, they would have cut the head out of high-density foam using at least a dozen setups to get all of the undercuts and angles. "We would have had to scale back the design in order to keep a lid on the time and cost required to manufacture the part." he said.
"The Fortus 3D printer captured every detail down to the ribs on the roof of the dragon's mouth," Pohl said. "When I put the head on my desk, it felt like it was going to come to life any second."
To further reduce the weight after that first iteration, Pohl created internal gaps and printed another copy. He revealed the client loved the design, because Pohl created faster and at less expense than was possible with traditional methods.
Outfitted with an S&S 100 cubic inch engine, a 6-speed Baker gearbox and a Rolling Thunder frame, the bike is street legal in China.
"I am continually amazed by the ability of additive manufacturing to transform my most complex designs into real life."
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