CRP Technology reinvents the Energica dashboard through professional 3D printing and Windform® materials
In Modena, homeland of supercars and motor valley of Italy, the first high-performance full electric motorcycles “Ego” was born in Energica Motor Company S.p.A. Ego was rigorously developed using F1 technologies and the Windform® family of high performance composite materials. Energica was created and engineered through the CRP Group, whose decades-long activity in the field of High Precision CNC machining and professional 3D printing, along with Windform® composite materials for Additive Manufacturing, allowed the creation of innovative and avant-garde solutions that have made Energica a unique model throughout the world.
The use of Laser Sintering technology and Windform® composite materials enabled Energica to be on the market quickly, accelerating the prototyping and product development phase.
The Energica project stems from the entrepreneurial vision of the Cevolini family, owners of the CRP Group, after the CRP Racing experience in parallel with eCRP back in 2009.
The CRP Group was fundamental for the industrial development of Energica since the very first prototypes, which contain parts made with Selective Laser Sintering technology and Windform® carbon or glass fibre filled composite materials. The materials were engineered by the RD department of CRP Technology, the CRP Group’s company that has been dealing with professional 3D printing for over 20 years.
Energica has also benefited from the experience gained by the CRP Group in over 45 years of activity as a supplier of innovative and cutting-edge technological solutions alongside the major F1, Moto GP, Rally Raid and ALMS teams. The Group has always provided these teams with a high level of support during the entire development phases of the projects, from the early stages of design and development to the construction process, with consequent recognition of an innovative approach in the use of new materials and technologies.
The object of this application case is the creation of the Energica motorcycles dashboard.
Right from the very start, the Energica team endorsed the idea of creating an innovative dashboard capable of containing, protecting, and isolating cutting-edge and very complex electronics: the studies and tests conducted by Energica, along with the specialized and trustworthy supplier Cobo, led to the creation a 4.3″ dashboard made up of a display with 16.7 million active matrix colours that provides excellent visibility.
The active matrix dashboard creates a real Human Machine Interface for the motorcycles.
This technology allows great flexibility, supporting the flow of information and interactivity with the vehicle system. It can provide an extensive menu of configurations and advanced user diagnostics, which are easy to read.
The Energica team worked with the injection mould supplier to develop the dashboard. Both took advantage of the support and expertise of CRP Technology, the CRP Group company leader in the field of professional 3D printing with Windform® composite materials.
CRP Technology handled the construction of the functional prototypes.
Creation of the 3D printing prototypes
CRP Technology produced three functional prototypes, using Selective Laser Sintering technology and Windform® LX 3.0, a polyamide-based composite material reinforced with glass-fibres.
On all three prototypes the development and validation activities of the components (hardware and software) and the verification of the design solutions were carried out applying specific test plans aimed at verifying both the full correspondence to the functional needs and compliance with the quality and reliability objectives required.
The decision to opt for the creation of prototypes, that would allow a thorough study to reduce the margins of error on the injection mould, is the result of a process undertaken by CRP Technology together with the Energica Motor Company team engineers.
First prototype of the Windform LX 3.0 dashboard. (front and back)
The shell was made in two separate parts. “Our suppliers of traditional technology (mould makers) – they stated at Energica Motor Company – would have taken roughly five months to prepare the prototype moulds. Thanks to CRP Technology and the Windform® composite materials, we received the prototype in two days.”
The next phase involved assembling electronic components and securing them with mastic/glue. No particular difficulties or problems were found during this phase.
The Windform® prototype was then returned to Energica, which tested it by mounting it directly on the bike (in photo 3 you’ll note the holder for the bike) and tested it on the road: the prototype, in conditions of extreme stress, was suitable for protecting sophisticated electronic components thanks to the construction material used. In fact, Windform® LX 3.0, is non-conductive material, ideal for producing resistant end use parts and end-applications, which can be subjected to vibrations, impacts, and multiple weather conditions.
The second prototype, thanks to the material’s features, was painted in order to conduct colour tests.
Second prototype of the dashboard made with Windform LX 3.0 (painted). (front and back)
The third prototype is a hybrid version which enabled the Energica staff and mould makers to carry out precise assembly tests: this model features the lower part made by 3D printing using Windform® LX 3.0, and the upper part in plastic injection.
The tests gave positive results and the Energica engineers were satisfied: the two parts were assembled without encountering any particular problems. The plastic injection tolerances calculated are the same as those of the Windform® composite material used.
Third prototype of the dashboard with edge details (hybrid version: plastic injection upper part, lower part in Windform® LX 3.0)
Third prototype of the dashboard (rear)
Creation of the finished product using traditional technology (injection moulding)
Once the project by the Energica team was approved, the mould makers developed the mould for industrial production.
The professional 3D printing technology and Windform® composite materials enabled the Energica team to shorten product development times, and to continue testing the component/prototype directly on the motorbike.
“We used the functional prototypes of the dashboard for roughly six months, subjecting them to every kind of stress during the test rides.
Thanks to the prototypes in 3D printing and Windform®, we have been able to work with the mould makers in a new way. These functional components, which are much more than just aesthetic prototypes, allowed us to examine the application, and annotate some improvements for the final mould. We therefore saved time and money: when we gave the authorization to proceed with injection moulding, we knew that the pieces would come out perfect and ready to be used.”