e-floater e-floater The e-floater from Floatility is a lightweight urban scooter with a range of more than 9 miles. (Photo: Floatility)

The 3D-printed prototype that could transform traveling in cities

The e-floater electric scooter aims to provide a safe, efficient alternative to cars and bikes in urban environments.

Bike sharing programs in major cities like New York and London have been warmly received by commuters. But if it's too hot where you live, or you're just this side of lazy, there's a new device that'll take care of you. In an effort to provide choice for those who would rather not exert themselves getting from point A to B, German tech firm Floatility is launching a lightweight solar-powered scooter that aims to redefine modern city travel.

To turn its next generation transportation solution from concept to reality, Floatility used technology from Stratasys, a firm that produces cutting-edge 3D printers from its manufacturing headquarters in Israel. Similar to other companies like Airbus and Honda, Floatility embraced 3D printers from Israel to not only save money, but leap ahead quickly in bringing its product to market.

“The need to build prototypes that exactly resembled the final product and that would enable us to test everything thoroughly was vital to the successful launch of this product,” Oliver Risse, founder and CEO of Floatility, told Stratasys. “3D printing was essential."

e-floaterTo quickly go from idea to prototype, Floatility relied on 3D printing technology from Israeli firm Stratasys. (Photo: Floatility)

To achieve the scooter's weight of 26 pounds, or about half the heft of standard ride-sharing bikes, Floatility utilized Stratasys' printers capable of producing both soft components and rugged pieces exposed to more wear and tear. The end result was a prototype made from 80% composites and plastics, a lightweight departure from the conventional metals found in competing personal transport.

Called the e-floater, the compact, three-wheeled scooter features an electric motor, quick-charge battery, front and rear lights, and dual independent brakes. With a range of more than nine miles, it's more than capable of helping cities solve the tricky "last mile" problem, or the gap between mass transit and a commuter's ultimate destination. While cars have traditionally played a role, cities are increasingly exploring clean, compact alternatives to reduce congestion and pollution.

“Over a thousand [bike sharing] systems are already installed, large-scale systems, but why do people still pedal?” Risse said in a recent interview. “In tropical countries like Singapore, nobody wants to pedal. That’s why we say ‘Look, we need to get something that’s the next generation of technology, that’s purely electric, people stand on it, go a short distance to go from A to B.’”

Andy Middleton, President of Stratasys EMEA, agreed. "The blend of both our core 3D printing technologies proved instrumental in bringing another exciting and innovative product to market and, as a company, we’re delighted to play a part in helping Floatility – and other startup businesses like them – bring their ideas to reality," he said in a statement.

When might we start to see the e-floater gliding down city roads? According to the company's Facebook page, a small rollout of the electric scooters will begin in the coming months in both Singapore and Hamburg, Germany, with America hopefully not too far behind.

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