Eva Håkansson is the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider at 270 mph. She is a mechanical engineer and the main builder of her electric streamliner motorcycle the ‘KillaJoule’, which also is the world’s fastest electric motorcycle – and 3D printing has played its part.
Despite an obsession with everything fast, it is not the need for speed that is Ms Håkansson ‘s main drive, as strange as it may sound. She has a mission in her life: to show that eco-friendly electric vehicles don’t have to be slow, and that engineering is a great career choice for women. She also loves building stuff that has never been built before.
Eva received a PhD in Mechanical Engineer from the University of Denver, Colorado, USA, and is working as a consultant in the field of engineering, racing, and high performance electric vehicles. Building and racing the KillaJoule electric motorcycle at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA is just a very expensive hobby.
Every August, Ms Håkansson takes over the Bonneville Salt Flats where for five days she tests the improvements to the electric motorbike.
The “real purpose of the KillaJoule is what I call eco-activism in disguise. We want to change general public opinion about electric vehicles and particularly changing the image that they’re slow… by building something that is so fast that nobody can ignore it.”
And this is where 3D printing enters, making things a lot faster in a new world of manufacturing.
Ms Håkansson used a LulzBot TAZ 3D printer, and has manufactured an increasing amount of components for KillaJoule.
“It’s opened a whole new dimension of manufacturing,” Ms Håkansson says. “You can do things you can’t even dream of making otherwise.”
Using PLA filament, in keeping with her environment-friendly vision since its biodegradable, she has designed key elements such as spoilers and leading edges for her bike. Other elements in her project use different materials, such as the speedometer housing which uses INOVA-1800, premium material.
“If you compare to what it costs to have parts made or the time you would spend machining something similar or building it with using other methods, 3D printed parts are super cheap,” reflected Ms Håkansson. “You can have maybe a 24-hour print, but you don’t have to watch it for 24 hours. You just load it and then you go and do something else, so we consider the machine time almost free.”
Projects such as KillaJoule prove that 3D printing is allowing more complex according to 3Dprintingindustry.com and ‘ambitious projects to be built in a faster and more financially accessible fashion. 3D printing technology shows a promising future for the motorcycle and automotive industries, and perhaps more interestingly, it allows for the inclusion of amateurs, without the backing of a vast team of mechanics, into new fields’.
Ms Håkansson just loves building and racing things that have never been built before, and that’s the way it has always been. You could say that it’s in the genes. Growing up in her native Sweden, her dad built and raced motorcycles in evenings and weekends, her mum was his mechanic, and a young Eva went to the racetrack in the baby carrier.
“My father Sven was an engineer and champion motorcycle rider who laid the foundation for my love of science and motorcycles,” she says. “I basically grew up in his machine shop, and he has always encouraged me to get my hands dirty. He insisted that I worked on my own car and motorcycle, and we converted a motorcycle into electric in 2007. That was the starting point for my love of electric vehicles.”
Being able to build a vehicle that reaches such speed with a small team and limited equipment is the type of feat that attracts the right type of attention. As 3D printing continues to evolve, the doubt is rapidly disappearing into the rear view mirror.