Paul Nishihira, GoEngineer Application Engineer
Since purchasing my Ducati in 1996, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it. When the weather is right, the motorcycle is freshly detailed, and the engine mechanics are in complete adjustment, there is no better feeling in the world like aggressively shifting through gears at wide-open throttle cresting an apex of a turn while dragging knee on a back country road.
The downside to Ducati ownership is the required frequent maintenance:
• Incessant wear and tear of a racing dry clutch
• Multiple cold start attempts due to racing carburetors
• Endless adjustments of the desmodromic valve assembly
• Replacement of the fragile camshaft belts
Enter 3D Print Technology
I have a soft spot for spending countless hours creating tangible items from blocks or rounds of metal in a machine shop. However, when reducing time-to-market, minimizing cost, or more importantly, returning my Ducati motorcycle to road-worthy condition, 3D print technology is the “go-to” additive manufacturing process to create parts, assemblies, and tooling in many industries.
3D Print Technology + Motorcycle Tooling
Every two years or 6000 miles, I replace the camshaft belts with new ones. Failure to do so is gambling with the potential of belt breakage or failure. The final output is typical damage to the unique desmodromic valve train components, the engine pistons, and sometimes the engine cylinders. (Its net value is equal to a boat anchor sinking fast in the deep blue Pacific Ocean.)
Since the camshaft pulley is under tension, I challenged myself to create a tool or adapter that will easily rotate the camshaft pulley by using a wrench. Also in mind is to create a tool to prevent bloody knuckles or bleeding fingers during the process.
Based on that criteria, I chose Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), offered by the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus as a cost-effective choice for this application.
Utilizing my trusty dial calipers, I documented critical dimensions from the camshaft pulley as baseline information to incorporate into my SOLIDWORKS model.
With the design phase complete, I converted the SOLIDWORKS model to STL format and directly opened that STL file inside the software which interfaces with the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus 3D printer.
Post-cleanup and ready for installation
After careful separation from the base tray and a solution bath to dissolve excess support material, the 3D printed tool held tolerances within .005 of an inch (total) as compared to the SOLIDWORKS model.
Functionality and durability
The 3D printed tool as installed with mounting hardware on my Ducati motorcycle. No more bloody knuckles or bleeding fingers!
After multiple usages of this tool on both the vertical and horizontal camshaft pulleys, I am quite satisfied with its durability and functionality. Regarding saving time, what usually would be 20 minutes (on average) of fiddling around by hand for that “perfect adjustment” has now been reduced to 5 minutes.
This translates into more motorcycle riding time for me!
The tool has also served as a catalyst for conversation with other “backyard” Ducati enthusiasts about the features and benefits of 3D printing technology and 3D CAD.
Paul is an Application Engineer for GoEngineer. He has twenty years experience in mechanical drafting and design, sixteen of those years were spent in CNC programming and CNC Machining. Paul also has six years experience in aircraft maintenance, an Active Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) license, and an Active FCC license. Paul is an avid motorcycle rider—street and dirt.