Custom Motorcycle Windscreen Brackets with SOLIDWORKS & 3D Print Technology

by Paul Nishihira

Motorcycle Riding – 2010 KTM SMT

For me, riding my motorcycle is having the freedom of the open road and traveling with the wind in my hair!  Sounds great, right?  Well, after any extended period of riding in the weather elements; physical and mental fatigue takes over, leaving the operation of a motorcycle quite dangerous.

On my quest to create comfort and extend my riding to a long haul, I decided to improve the stock windshield (or windscreen) of my KTM SM-T. This is where aftermarket parts, SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing technology takes over.

Motorcycle Windscreen: Stock vs Touring

Take a look at the stock windscreen below. It looks ergonomically ‘sporty’ but doesn’t provide much protection from the weather elements.

morotcycle-comfortIn comparison, you will see a touring windscreen below. This version is significantly taller but still does not provide the necessary protection from the weather elements.

motorcycle-comfort1The Aftermarket Alternative

I decided to purchase a larger, sport-touring specific windscreen which offered improved protection from the weather elements.  To my disappointment, the laser-cut mounting holes from the vendor did not align correctly during my initial set-up.

Problem Solving: The SOLIDWORKS and 3D Print Technology Solution!

After multiple attempts of email correspondence and revised brackets from the vendor, it still did not fit correctly.  Frustration set in so I made the decision to utilize SOLIDWORKS for its powerful design capabilities and Stratasys 3D printing technology as it’s the “go-to” additive manufacturing process to create parts, assemblies, and tooling. This decision helped minimize time-to-market, cost and more importantly, will return my KTM motorcycle to road-worthy condition.

The following GoEngineer videos discuss  what 3D Printing technology is all about and which one is right for you:

3D Print Technology to the Rescue

Ultimately, I decided that Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, offered by the FORTUS 250mc 3D printer would be a cost-effective choice for this application.

mc-comfort-5Collecting Information

Utilizing my trusty dial calipers, I documented critical dimensions from the aftermarket windscreen as well as from the existing mounting holes on my motorcycle. A baseline to incorporate into my SOLIDWORKS model.

mc-comfort-6With the design phase complete, I converted the SOLIDWORKS model to STL format.  I was able to directly open that STL file inside the intuitive, user-friendly Insight and Control Center Application software. This software interfaces seamlessly with the FORTUS 250mc 3D printer.

mc-comfort-7Post-printed Cleanup and Installation

First, I separated my part from the base tray. Next, I used a solution bath to dissolve excess support material. The 3D printed brackets held tolerances within .005 of an inch (total) as compared to the SOLIDWORKS model.


Note: The final versions are the items in black.

Installation Time

Installation of the aftermarket touring windscreen was a breeze with my custom 3D printed brackets and upgraded mounting hardware.  Maximum weather element protection!


mc-comfort-10Testing and Conclusion

After a day-long test ride and 350+ miles later,  I find that I am not fatigued by excessive wind noise and wind pressure.  I am satisfied with its durability as it has been tested in pre-dawn hours (i.e. cold weather), rain, cross-winds, head-winds and even at cruising speeds (somewhat above the law-abiding limit – not that I encourage that type of behavior).

In terms of saving time with the aftermarket vendor, what normally would have been 2 or 3 weeks of email correspondence and fabrication on new mounting brackets has now been reduced to 3 days.  These 3 days included reverse engineering & redesign, 3D printing and test-fit of all components for proper fit-and-finish.

This redesign and modification served as a catalyst for conversation with other “backyard” motorcycle enthusiasts. The features and benefits of SOLIDWORKS, 3D Printing Technology and other services GoEngineer provides can’t be beat.

Happy riding!

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