Partnering to Drive Innovation
Confederate Motors recently teamed up with 3D Systems On Demand Manufacturing department, Quickparts, to turn 140 different bike designs into realities. Since their relationship began. Confederate Motors has been able to produce a wide range of parts, including some of their most wildly ambitious designs. By using 3D Systems Stereolithography 3D Printers, much like the ProJet 6000 and ProJet 7000 HD, and ProX SLS 500 (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printers, Confederate Motors has been able to greatly accelerate their product development and quality by producing various prototypes, assembly kits and molds.
“Our relationship with 3D Systems is probably the best thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been in this business,” says Matt Chambers, founder and CEO of Confederate Motors. “It takes so much of the pressure off our small team and lets us focus on what we love to do, which is design the best possible bike imaginable.”
Confederate Motors produces very exclusive products, typically making only 60 units per motorcycle model. The company chose to bring in 3D Systems as part of their product development to serve as a one-stop-shop for many prototypes, parts and molds ranging from the intake manifold to the ignition key. One motorcycle, the P51 Combat Fighter, contains a massive amount of 3D printed components such as the chassis, steering and swing arm part, fenders, exhaust shield and chain guard. This is made possible by 3D printing the parts in Accura PEAK material, available exclusively on 3D Systems SLA Printers.
“With the exception of some engine components, wiring, wheels, tires and lighting, 3D Systems makes every part of the Fighter,” says Jordan Cornille, designer at Confederate Motors. “We save a tremendous amount of time and hassle by being able to consolidate part production with one primary vendor. Parts go together better coming from the same vendor, and we can be assured that the part finish of everything will match.”
From Prototype to Production
The part accuracy and quality produced using 3D Systems 3D scanning devices, 3D printers, and both reverse engineering and inspection software are essentially unrivaled in the additive manufacturing industry. This was a key factor in Confederate Motors’ decision to outsource to 3D Systems.
“The thing that holds me up the most when we are prototyping is when a part doesn’t come in as advertised,” says Jason Reddick, Confederate’s production manager. “The 3D Systems parts for the G2 P51 came in as we asked for them, in the order in which we asked, on time. The prototype stayed on schedule and actually finished ahead of time, beating our projection by several days. This is the best prototype we’ve ever done.”
By producing highly accurate prototypes, Confederate Motors is able to confidently machine these 3D printed prototypes into production-grade, functioning components.
“3D Systems allows us to design extraordinary forms and shapes out of solid materials,” says Cornille. “The machines are so precise that there were very few changes to be made going from prototype to production. The only tweaks that were needed were design changes on our end.”
Silencing the Critics
The G2 P51 Combat Fighter was inspired by the design of American drag racing motorcycles. Thanks to the help of 3D Systems, Confederate Motors was able to put 200 foot pounds of torque in the bike – blowing away the critics.
Paul d’Orleans of Cycle World Magazine, wrote in his review: “integrated aesthetic, which hones its message of pure machismo…The Confederate did what it was designed to do, attracting more pedestrian attention than any motorcycle I’ve ever straddled, with an awesome power delivery and exhaust note, plus that unique aesthetic.”
Andrew Hard reiterated this in Digital Trends, stating: “The company’s vehicles are inspired by a raw, rebel spirit it calls the American Way, resulting in creations that are equal parts brutish and dashing, rolling art pieces with historical flair.”
Obtaining Freedom of Design
Confederate Motors collaboration with 3D Systems has opened up possibilities that were never before obtainable. The degree of freedom that Matt Chambers and his team at Confederate Motors are able to achieve has been a groundbreaking achievement, allowing them to produce parts, prototypes and molds more accurately and quickly than ever before. Chambers explains:
“It’s unfathomable for me to explain in words just how much better it is to be free to do something we are really great at, which is design. It’s changed our entire program, not just for the motorcycles we are working on now, but for the four or five new bike designs we’ll work on over the next three to four years.”
Confederate Motors Designer Jordan Cornille believes 3D Systems products have helped to drive the company’s relentless dedication to their products, stating:
“We like to move quickly in our decision-making processes and design quickly in order to offer our customers as many solutions as possible within a certain time frame. We don’t produce thousands of copies of each model, and 3D Systems allows us to change designs frequently without committing to thousands of dollars worth of tooling.”