3D Printed Accessories
3D printing is still seen as a black art, practised only by geeks in their basement laboratories, or by big tech companies. The truth is that these days it's very accessible, easier and a lot less expensive than you might think. It's actually the perfect compliment to motorcycling and if you really don't want to indulge in the technicalities, you don't even need a 3d printer!
There's no two ways about it, bike accessories are expensive. It's a limited market and one in which the customers have often already laid out big bucks on the motorcycle, helmet and clothing. So yes, of course they won't bulk at paying $60 for a phone holder or $45 for a fancy GoPro helmet mount or $15 for a plastic hook to hang their helmet on. And what about those items that just aren't on the market yet? Maybe you don't have a very common bike, or you have an idea that nobody has thought of. Biking has always been about customisation after all.
Can Am Ryker Helmet Hanger by leenanj - www.thingiverse.com/thing:3781823
So how much does it cost to get setup? Well, let me put it this way, it didn't take long for my printer to pay for itself. 3D printers are all basically the same. You can go for the cheapest printer out there and get great results. Then when you want to upgrade, you can start printing upgrades for the printer you already have! You can even print a new printer! Prices start at under $150 and for that you get everything you need to hit the ground running. A replacement roll of biodegradable plastic filament is around $15 for 2lb/1kg. This will last you months or even years.
Mini 3D Printer - $149.99 - Amazon Link
Here are some of the items I have made. Some are designed by me, some are downloaded direct from thingyverse.com for FREE and some are modified versions of those downloads. The good news is: if you don't have a printer, there are services out there that will print your design/download and send it to you in the post. One such service is Shapeways.com but there are many more.
SATNAV style mount for iPhone5 in waterproof case - $1.13
My own design. Costs 87 pence or $1.13 in materials - LINK
GoPro mount for flip front helmet - $0.36
An adaptation of an existing design. Costs 28 pence or 36 cents in materials - LINK
Helmet Hook - $.0.25
19 pence or 25 cents in materials - LINK
Waterproof case for cheap chinese voltmeter - $0.13
An adaptation - Costs 10 pence or 13 cents in materials + about $4 for the meter - LINK
Boom mic clip for Nolan helmet - $0.01
My design. You normally only get this with the OEM Nolan Hands Free Kit. 1 pence to make!
GoPro Extension - $0.09
There are hundreds of different designs on thingyverse.com - LINK
Lightweight Scalable Carabiner - $0.22
Print any size you like - LINK
There are many more, but you get the idea. The convenience of being able to print something at midnight on a Sunday should not be overlooked. There are literally millions of designs on Thingiverse, so if you can think of something, it's probably there already. Alternatively there is a free online design program that's aimed at total novices and children here: tinkercad.com
Three more amazing things:
Nasa sent the space station a fully working 3/8 ratchet drive
This isn't the first 3D-printed object made in space, but it is the first created to meet the needs of an astronaut. When International Space Station Commander Barry Wilmore needed a wrench, NASA knew just what to do. They "e-mailed" him one. This is the first time an object has been designed on Earth and then transmitted to space for manufacture. Now you can print one yourself at home. It prints in one go and comes off the bed fully working! LINK
"My dad spent the last year 3d printing this wearable suit from scratch"
Lastly. You can print in dozens of different materials. Have you ever been stuck for the correct sized 'O' ring?