Piaggio, 3D carbon fibre printing and the GITA robot
Piaggio, 3D carbon fibre printing and GITA
Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF), a company born from the merger with the historic Italian brand Piaggio, has developed its first product, Gita – a semi-autonomous, battery-operated 22 pound two-wheel robot capable of carrying up to 40 pounds of cargo, indoors or outdoors, to be an advanced American research centre for mobility.
According to architect Greg Lynn, creative director of the PFF, Gita can equal its owner’s movement and has a radius of zero curvature, which means it can turn around in the space it occupies. Lynn says that Gita can reach speeds of up to 22 mph, but can also accelerate or decelerate to match the speed of the following person.
Lynn admits that Gita had to be made of composite materials to complete the project quickly and to ensure that the robot achieved high performance. The engineer also admits that when Piaggio made the first version of the Gita, the entire 3D vehicle was printed in half scale. The PFF and its engineering team then resized it and 3D and printed another vehicle about a month later, but these parts were incredibly expensive and not very durable.
Lynn says that composite parts were made through a wet depressurisation process that consolidated unidirectional carbon fibers with an epoxy resin system. He adds that one of the main reasons why these materials and processes were selected was the collaboration with MarkForged, a Boston-based company based in Boston that has done an innovative job in 3D composite printing.
Piaggio, 3D carbon fibre printing
The company now has six MarkForged units. A pair that prints continuous fibres and then the rest prints with cut filaments. The Gita robot uses approximately 78 supports between belts, panels and ergonomic workpieces as printed handles through 3D printing.