Autodesk Software Helps Enable Cost-Effective Electric Bike Design at Pi Mobility
has named Pi Mobility as the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for December for using Autodesk software to more efficiently design the Pi Cycle, a new generation of sturdy, long-lasting electric bicycles.
“With Digital Prototyping, they can do just that: save time and money, build better products, and beat the competition to market.”
In the early stages of design, Pi Mobility used Autodesk Inventor software to produce a 3D digital prototype of the Pi Cycle that showed that by increasing the diameter of the bike’s tube by a half an inch, the company could immediately save $335,000. Extrapolated over several years, this discovery translates into seven figures worth of cost savings — a discovery that puts Pi Mobility on track to achieve profitability a full year ahead of schedule.
“We can form a tube in about 30 seconds, and with the help of Autodesk software, changes to the design can be embedded very quickly,” said Marcus Hays, CEO of Pi Mobility. “Our manufacturing method offers very rapid scale at very competitive prices, but it also reduces the required labor to a fraction of more traditional electric bikes.”
The Pi Cycle’s single, arched tube of recycled aluminum is the key to its strength, providing a frame that eliminates the need to cobble together multiple plastic components that are prone to breakage. In addition to giving the Pi Cycle an iconic and instantly recognizable shape, the arch provides a durability that ensures the bike will last over the long haul — helping increase the viability of electric bikes as a sustainable transportation option.
The Pi Cycle has a miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) of roughly 1,250 miles, which makes its unique hybrid of human and electric power 20 to 30 times more efficient than a conventional car or motorcycle running on fossil fuel. In addition, the recycled aluminum tube that makes up its frame requires just one-thirteenth the amount of electricity to produce when compared to virgin aluminum, further reducing environmental impact.
Digital Prototyping Optimizes Design Process
Pi Mobility is also a member of the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program, which provides software for emerging clean tech companies in North America and Europe. The Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping — including Autodesk Vault, Autodesk Alias Design, andAutodesk Showcase, as well as Inventor — helped the company to rapidly explore different materials and iteration choices to optimize the design of the Pi Cycle.
Thanks to the less labor-intensive design and associated cost savings of the single tube, the company is able to maintain high-quality production of its Pi Cycles in the United States — rather than sending the work overseas, where most electric bikes are produced — and still be profitable.
“Clean tech companies like Pi Mobility need to take a great idea and make it a reality—quickly and cost effectively,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. “With Digital Prototyping, they can do just that: save time and money, build better products, and beat the competition to market.”