Curtiss leverages hybrid manufacturing for Zeus 8 electric motorcycle
It’s clear when looking at the Zeus 8 motorcycle that it is not your run-of-the-mill chopper. With a dramatic elongated body and exposed battery cylinders, the electric motorcycle is a vehicle that even non-motorcycle-enthusiasts can gawk at. The impressive sickle, designed by Alabama-based Curtiss Motorcycles, has been in development for some time and is now finally approaching production—thanks in large part to hybrid manufacturing company Fast Radius.
With ambitions set high for its upcoming electric motorcycle, Curtiss planned a major launch party for the Zeus 8. However, when it ran into prototyping challenges, the company became fearful its two-wheeler wouldn’t be ready in time for the launch. Specifically, Curtiss faced problems when sourcing large complex parts for the prototype, which made it challenging to move ahead towards production.
Fortunately, Curtiss found in Fast Radius a production partner that could help manufacture the necessary prototype parts within the required time constraints. For the motorcycle project, the hybrid manufacturing solutions company leveraged its three key areas of expertise: application engineering, hybrid manufacturing and operational efficiency.
A hybrid approach
The first step of the partnership brought together Fast Radius’ application engineers and Curtiss’ team to find the right manufacturing solution for the Zeus 8 prototype components and to optimize the components for a given technology. Because the larger components of the motorcycle frame were best suited for CNC machining, Fast Radius’ team helped to tweak the bike’s design to not only make them manufacturable but also maintain a high design standard.
In addition to using five-axis CNC milling to produce the large components for the Zeus 8, Fast Radius also suggested that certain smaller parts be produced using additive manufacturing. As Fast Radius said on its website: “Rather than pushing Curtiss toward a single manufacturing process, the Fast Radius team evaluated all of the part requirements and created a hybrid solution that comprised three separate production processes, including legacy and additive methods.”
After seeing the early success of this hybrid manufacturing approach, Curtiss was interested in taking its partnership with Fast Radius to the next level, and both companies are currently working together to assess more parts of the Zeus 8 which could be made using 3D printing, such as the seat and handle grips.
A timely production
Once Fast Radius and Curtiss determined what manufacturing processes to move ahead with—CNC machining and additive manufacturing—they went directly into production in order to have the prototype motorcycle ready for its big unveiling. In the end, Fast Radius was able to produce all the parts for the Zeus 8 within just 12 days—reportedly two days faster than competing suppliers.
The rapid turnaround times for the parts was due in part to a high success rate. According to Fast Radius, it produced 60 parts for the Zeus 8 and experienced a first-pass yield rate of over 95%.
“Fast Radius can get us the best parts with the shortest lead times, but that’s not the only reason we partner with them,” commented H. Matthew Chambers, CEO and Chairman at Curtiss. “ We work with Fast Radius because they push us toward the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. We’re creating the most advanced motorcycles the world has ever seen, and Fast Radius is committed to making our vision a reality.”
Going forward, Curtiss has enlisted Fast Radius to make components for its line of luxury electric motorcycles, which currently includes the Zeus 8 and Hades—both of which are going into production next year and start at $75,000 per bike.