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Thok P4: the first 3D printed enduro e-bike prototype

Created by the well known Italian brand in collaboration with Materialise as the first of a new generation

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Thok, a well-known Italian brand in the e-bike industry, has revealed its latest creation, the Thok P4. This groundbreaking prototype marks the first-ever enduro e-bike with a fully 3D-printed frame.

Established in 2017 by former professional biker and current CEO Stefano Migliorini, the company is headquartered in the Piedmont region. Thok once again showcases its pioneering spirit in the realm of enduro bikes with the introduction of the Thok P4. This exceptional e-bike prototype features a completely functional 3D printed frame, a collaborative achievement with renowned service provider Materialise. The innovative printing technique employed is Selective Laser Melting (SLM), which goes beyond conventional polymers to print composite fibers and metals like the aluminum alloy (AlSi10Mg) used in the Thok P4.

Constructed from this aluminum alloy, the Thok P4 delivers flawless performance. It’s currently being utilized to finalize the development of Thok’s upcoming “light” e-bike, a pedal-assist model designed to closely emulate the behavior and handling of traditional pedal-powered bicycles.

Thok P4: the first 3D printed enduro e-bike prototype created in collaboration with Materialise as the first of a new generation

According to the company, the application of 3D printing technology has yielded substantial advantages. Unlike the past, which required the creation of at least three frame prototypes before achieving a functional one, 3D printing allows the immediate use of the first model. This not only significantly reduces development timelines but also enables the realization of complex geometries that were previously unattainable using traditional manufacturing methods.

While the future trajectory of 3D printing is yet to be fully defined, the collaborative experimentation undertaken by THOK and Materialise holds a pivotal role in this narrative, driving innovation that will benefit the global e-bike industry as a whole.

Referred to as the THOK Project 4 (with “P4” as a temporary identifier until the bicycle assumes its final form and name), this prototype serves as the precursor to THOK’s anticipated “light e-MTB” crafted from carbon fiber. Anticipated to debut around 2024, this e-MTB will feature a Bosch SX motor and a battery offering different capacities (400 / 545 / 725 Wh) along with a range extender.

Thok P4: the first 3D printed enduro e-bike prototype created in collaboration with Materialise as the first of a new generation

Although the development process is ongoing and certain technical aspects remain subject to evaluation (such as battery integration, configuration, and geometrical preferences), the 3D-printed prototype frame is already undergoing rigorous testing on the technical trails of Finale Ligure and the Alba region.

The primary objective of rapid prototyping using 3D printing is to generate fully functional models capable of testing various parameters, including geometry, suspension, and component integration. The SLM technology facilitates the creation of sufficiently lightweight components for simulating desired material properties, such as the characteristics of carbon fiber in this instance.

Luca Burzio, the industrial designer at THOK overseeing the engineering aspects of the projects, emphasized the limitations of traditional methods in achieving a fully functional prototype with an integrated battery and motor. Traditional manufacturing processes often involve components created for hydroforming and necessitate molds, rendering certain components difficult to prototype conventionally. The 3D printed fully suspended e-bike developed by THOK addresses these challenges.

Thok P4: the first 3D printed enduro e-bike prototype created in collaboration with Materialise as the first of a new generation

CEO Stefano Migliorini echoed this sentiment, contrasting the past practice of multiple prototype iterations before achieving a functional model with the more efficient approach of the THOK P4. The first prototype revision now closely aligns with the thickness and dimensions typical of carbon fiber, providing a near-final riding experience.

This endeavor presented THOK and Materialise with novel challenges, serving as an educational platform for both entities. The collaboration expanded their expertise in the bicycle sector, especially concerning metal 3D printing, and enhanced their ability to meet the specific requirements of the Italian brand.

As highlighted in numerous articles over recent years, 3D printing’s role in the bicycle and e-bike domain is gaining prominence, not only in development but also in the production of final components. The collaborative experimentation between THOK and Materialise adds a significant chapter to this evolving narrative, fostering innovation that will positively impact the global e-bike industry.

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Giovanni Damiani

Additive Manufacturing Specialist. Robotics Engineering Student. I love anything with an engine and/or wheels and wings. A maker, designer, but above all, a passionate advocate of 3D printing. I am a devoted proponent of metal replacement through the development of technopolymers. I also have a keen interest in eco-friendly and recyclable polymers. I am virtually inseparable from my e-book reader (which I absolutely cannot do without), where I enjoy reading technological articles, historical essays, treatises on quantum mechanics, psychology books, and biographies of notable figures. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, practicing yoga, building cafe racers (sometimes more than riding them), assembling drones worthy of Dr. Frankenstein, pushing my 3D printers to their limits, and writing articles about this fantastic realm.

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