The Pinky Problem
Airwolf 3D’s Jowell Randall likes to do things his own way. While his friends were busy pretending to be Batman, Jowell was the Green Arrow. When other kids begged their parents for ice cream, Jowell clamored for fruit. Similarly, while most dirt bike riders use their index and middle fingers to squeeze their clutch lever, Jowell prefers to squeeze his lever with his pinky out…just like a sophisticated Englishman drinking tea. This is not a judgment call; just an observation. The problem for Jowell is that most clutch levers are somewhat uncomfortable for his style of riding. Sure, Jowell could learn how to ride a motorcycle like everybody else, but when you own an Airwolf 3D printer you can afford to be a little non-conformist. Rather than adjusting to the design of his equipment, Jowell decided to make his equipment adjust to him. The custom clutch lever shown below is Jowell’s solution to his pinky problem. The lever is ergonomically contoured for his style of riding and it is composed entirely of polycarbonate filament, a relatively new material in the 3D printing industry. Polycarbonate Filament.
Since Airwolf 3D printers can operate at much higher temperatures than many competitors, Jowell was able to choose from more heat-resistant polymers in the construction of his project. He eventually decided on polycarbonate for the build material because of its strength, flexibility, and resistance to impact and abrasion. For newcomers to the world of 3D printing, polycarbonate is the same type of material commonly used in the manufacture of bullet-resistant glass, compact discs, and other products where strength and durability are vital.
Another attribute of polycarbonate filament is that it has good temperature resistance. Polycarbonate does not begin to soften until it reaches approximately 147° C (297° F) and has an extruding temperature of about 300 to 315° C (572 – 599° F), so Jowell’s clutch lever was well within the projected temperature range for this application.
Jowell’s use of polycarbonate as the build material dramatically reduced the weight of the clutch lever when compared to its steel OEM counterpart. This should come as a welcomed surprise to motorbike enthusiasts who are always on the lookout for ways of improving their power-to-weight ratios. The photo on the left illustrates a 70% reduction in weight between the original steel lever and Jowell’s polycarbonate version. Polycarbonate filament
After considering all the strengths of polycarbonate Jowell knew that his custom clutch lever would be rugged. But how rugged? To find, out he packed up his Honda CRF 450r and headed out to Lucerne Valley, CA for a little field test.
The Pinky Proving Ground
Most people would ease into the field testing of a new product, but not Jowell. He’s a non-conformist, remember? He quickly conducted an impact “test” of the clutch lever by performing a precision maneuver called a “spill” which landed the cycle on its side. To his relief, the polycarbonate lever survived the stunt thanks to its inherent flexibility. The lever was flexible enough to absorb the impact without deforming or breaking; which is a welcomed trait when you are traversing the southern reaches of the Mojave desert. (Unfortunately, the footage of the totally intentional spill was mysteriously missing from the series of files submitted for this publication.)
On the trail, Jowell could not discern a noticeable difference between his OEM clutch lever and his polycarbonate lever. The lever had a slight springiness to it but it actuated just as smoothly as the original steel lever. Aside from Jowell’s (*intentional) spill, the initial field test of polycarbonate filament was a success. The clutch lever held up under rigorous use and, as seen on the video below, endured several light impacts from vegetation as well as one hard impact from a the (*intentional) spill. When asked about his impression of his custom clutch lever he replied, “It worked like a clutch lever is supposed to work, only it was a lot more comfortable because it was made just for me. I was able to focus more on my ride than on my bike, which was great.” If you would like more information about Jowell’s polycarbonate clutch lever you may email him at: Jowell@Airwolf3D.com. Or, click here if you would like to learn more about the 30+ materials that can be printed with an Airwolf 3D printer. Polycarbonate filament.