Breathtaking concept aside, a design is only as good as its ability to transform from an idea into the real world. For idealists, this nagging truth is as deflating as it is tedious. Fortunately for the design purists at Confederate Motors, 3D Systems’ On Demand Manufacturing Service provides a parts production solution that lets their imaginations take to the open road.
Founded 24 years ago on the romantic ideals of uncompromising authenticity, Confederate Motors is a small-batch manufacturer of some of the finest American road bikes ever to burn rubber. A likeminded crew of designers and engineers, the Confederate Motors team brings next-level passion to what they do. Their bikes’ distinctive, “skeletal minimalism” style features an interworking display of components that is both sculpture and machine. Hugging unbridled creativity at every turn, the only limitation Confederate Motors has ever acknowledged has tied back to the fulfillment resources at its disposal. Enter the fortuitous find of 3D Systems’ on demand offerings.
"Our relationship with 3D Systems is probably the best thing that's happened to me since I've been in this business," says Matt Chambers, Founder and CEO of Confederate Motors. "It takes so much of the pressure off our small team and lets us focus on what we love to do, which is design the best possible bike imaginable."
At 3D Systems, our On Demand Manufacturing provides a full arsenal of traditional and additive manufacturing solutions to customers across the globe, connecting businesses and individuals with the equipment and expertise necessary to bring their ideas to life. Though Confederate Motors originally turned to us for accelerated prototyping via stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS), the bike maker soon availed itself of our full manufacturing floor, complete with CNC machining and sheet metal bending. Shortly thereafter, the idea of a production partnership emerged and Confederate Motors tasked us with creating complete assembly kits for its second-generation P51 Combat Fighter.
Using our fabrication facility fully outfitted with metal forming, laser cutting and punching, CNC machining, welding and finishing cells, we helped Confederate Motors with prototype and production runs of more than 140 thoroughbred parts. Ranging in complexity and size from the intake manifold to the key to start the engine, we helped Confederate Motors create their custom bikes exactly as they envisioned, and ahead of schedule.
"We save a tremendous amount of time and hassle by being able to consolidate part production with one primary vendor,” says Jordan Cornille, designer at Confederate Motors. “Parts go together better, and we can be assured that the part finish of everything will match. With the exception of some engine components, wiring, wheels, tires and lighting, 3D Systems makes every part of the Fighter." This includes the carbon fiber front and back fenders, exhaust shield and chain guard, which were made using SLA patterns printed in Accura® Peak material.
"It's unfathomable for me to explain in words just how much better it is to be free to do something we are really great at, which is design,” Matt says. “It's changed our entire program, not just for the motorcycles we are working on now, but for the four or five new bike designs we'll work on over the next three to four years."
For more on 3D Systems’ work with Confederate Motors, read the full case study here.