3D printing has become more prevalent throughout the motorcycle industry in recent years. From custom fabricated parts to smartphone mounts to electric batteries, 3D printing helps engineers and designers develop cutting-edge products. Now, racing teams are finding ways to extract even more performance from superbikes and supersports with the latest 3D printing technologies.
In 2019, the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team turned to 3D printing to help develop more aerodynamic fairings. First, the team utilized a RangeVision 3D scanner to create a digital copy of the Ninja ZX-10RR race rig. After covering the bike in a matte spray and tracking dots, the engineers captured the bike with and without bodywork to accurately account for fairing mounting points.
By applying aerodynamic modeling algorithms to the digital Ninja, the team could develop new bodywork that minimizes drag and weight while improving durability. Unlike traditional manufacturing processes, 3D printing allowed the team to design complex and free-form shapes.
Partnering with Russia-based 3D printer manufacturer PICASO 3D, Puccetti Racing Team 3D printed the new fairing molds out of FormaX material. The engineers then laid carbon fiber layers from Russia-based carbon fiber specialist UMATEX Rosatom in the molds. Once heated with reinforcing material, the carbon fiber composite fairings helped power the satellite Kawi squad to the front of the pack. The slippery new bodywork resulted in a 4-km/h (2.5-mph) top speed increase for the ZX-10RR.
With the new fairing in place, then WSBK Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu powered the Ninja to his first WSBK pole position at Imola. The Turkish rider finished the Italian round in third place, illustrating the immediate benefits of the 3D-printed parts. Of course, Razgatlıoğlu currently leads the 2021 WSBK field aboard the Yamaha R1, but the Kawasaki Puccetti team certainly helped the rider get his start. Similar to Razgatlıoğlu, we hope 3D printing continues to impact the series after its start at Puccetti Racing.