RIT student Mike Elrod creates a 3D-printed electric skateboard

Elrod designed, prototyped, and built the skateboard while on co-op at Tesla

Scott Hamilton/RIT

Inspired by his co-op experience at Tesla, RIT student Mike Elrod used his expertise in engineering and 3D printing to create an electric skateboard.

While on co-op at Tesla in 2022, fifth-year mechanical engineering student Mike Elrod was compelled by his creative spirit and passion for robotics, and the fact that he did not have a car, to create his very own electric skateboard using a 3D printer he had purchased. Drawing from his background in engineering and his ability to create high-quality, functional products with 3D printing, Elrod got to work on the skateboard.

“I've always wanted to use engineering-grade materials and filaments to make functional parts for 3D printing,” Elrod said. “It’s not always interesting to make little trinkets; I want to use it for engineering.”

The deck, truck, and electrical casing for the skateboard were all 3D printed by Elrod using carbon fiber- infused filaments to provide the strength and material quality necessary to hold a person. A 3D-printed metallic component was also produced to help the skateboard properly turn. The vehicle runs off a 36-volt battery and has a top speed of 20 miles per hour. It also boasts 6.5-inch pneumatic tires to travel over rough and bumpy terrain. The electrical components of the skateboard are controlled wirelessly by a handheld remote.

While working on the skateboard, as well as other vehicles that Elrod has developed such as an electric scooter and an electric go kart, he also utilized online support to assist in the development process.

“I knew the community, the industry, and the forums. There have been a lot of companies that have popped up over the last 10 years that make motors and motor controllers, which are the brain, battery packs, and all the little electronics,” Elrod explained.

Elrod, who is from Colchester, Conn., has wanted to be an engineer since he was a child and had been designing various projects since he participated in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition in high school.

Elrod came to RIT after visiting the university. The co-op program, Engineering House, size of the university, and engineering resources available on campus for students were all cited as reasons for enrolling. The one drawback, according to Elrod? RIT is not near Florida’s space coast. Elrod’s interest in space also led him to RIT’s Launch Initiative, where he worked with a team of students to develop a Level 2 rocket.

Following his time at Tesla, Elrod landed an internship with SpaceX—his dream company—in 2023, and will begin working there full time in June.

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