By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Cities
The Urbee is a two-seater hybrid car that features a 3-D printed exterior and some serious fuel efficiency.
In miniaturized form, it makes for a fine kid's toy. But Jim Kor knows that when you've spent the last several years talking up plans to build the world's first 3-D printed electric car, nothing short of a drivable vehicle will do.
Last week, the mechanical engineer, with the help of his design and engineering team, finally made good on his promise by unveiling a fully functional prototype at the at the TEDx conference in Winnipeg. Dubbed Urbee, the two-seater features an exterior body generated entirely using three dimensional additive manufacturing, a process in which parts are printed out layer by layer. In all honesty, the prototype can only be considered a partially 3-D printed vehicle since only the body panels were produced this way. However, the team hopes that won't be the case with future versions.
Underneath the hood is a single-cylinder ethanol-powered engine and electric motors that enable it to function as a hybrid. A top output of 8 hp means that performance may be limited, though it makes up for this by offering serious fuel efficiency in the range of 200 mpg on the highway and 100 mpg when navigating city streets. It's also built to last 30 years.
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Despite these selling points, I'm sure some of you are still wondering what's the real advantage of printing out automobiles as opposed to assembling them. Well, think of the process this way: if the technology were scaled up, it would substantially lower manufacturing costs since rendering all the parts on the spot means less wasted materials and eliminates the need to have them shipped in from various factories. Also, there's the simplicity factor. For the production of both the miniature model and the full sized version, the team was able to run the same software program.
"This process could revolutionize how we make things. It has certainly changed my way of thinking about manufacturing," Kor told the BBC.
Special report: Breakthrough may lead to ‘limitless’ supply of hydrogen fuel
And to show that the Urbee project wasn't merely gimmick to promote the technology, the team is trying to raise $1 million to build a second prototype. They're aiming to roll out a commercial version by 2014 for as low as $30,000.
(via BBC News)
Related on SmartPlanet:
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More innovations -- electric cars:
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- Recharge an electric car without plugging in
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Sep 21, 2011
I found this blog worthy to read and was good to read the worldâs first 3-D printed car, prototype of this car seems wonderful and cool. http://automotorinsure.com/
this is completely cool and aweosme for thinking technology I mean how do people come up with things like that?? http://www.national.co.uk/branch-404-Hull.aspx
The title of the article and it's implication are lies - whether you later admit it or not. There nothing here but a few 3-d printed body panels. 3-D printing is so over-hyped it's absolutely amazing. It has very definite physical materials and especially economic limits all of which keep it from advancing as promoters would imply. Economically, the process has already peaked in that it is primarily limited by material cost restrictions that are likely to never be overcome technologically.
3D printing is slow and expensive. You need to have a 3D printing machine and amortize the cost of that machine over the number of parts printed. The result is a very expensive part, particularly if the parts are as large as a car.
Reducing labor costs actually means fewer people working. Success of this kind produces the quandary once voiced by Walter Reuther, the famous union organizer. When the technology succeeds (and it will) who will be able to buy one? (as the US poverty rate continues past 25%) In a funnier, but still true observation, Steven Colbert said the cost of the printer is the ink, not the device. Unless the parts are made by solar absorbing bacteria, the plastic will just be more expensive petroleum, negating the mileage gain and continuing the addiction to Mid-East politics/wars/defense. Every miracle brings new problems.
"eliminates the need to have them shipped in from various factories" AND just what teleporter brings the materials that are used in the 3D printing process? So instead of rolled steel stamped on site and weled on location, you'll ship hundreds of thousads of tons of petroelum based meltable plastic to the 3D printer. Anyone crash test this thing? Burn the flameless ethanol that you can't see its on fire? What happens IF it catches fire from an electrical short? Most plastic burns like crazy. I love the idea of 3D printers. But they are not the cure-all.
Not sure if 3D printing of parts will save that much on the manufacturing side, but there's definitely huge potential on the repair side. Local (or at least regional) printers could replace shipping of parts across long distances, making repairs faster & saving on the cost of maintaing inventories of a huge variety of parts.
Hello - ? Engine work would take a fraction of the time - and be a lot less costly. Just like I can pull a hard drive and test it - why can't I pull an engine/transmission and test it just as easily?
Is the ability to customize your skin. Forget the 4-year design cycle; you start with a generic framework, then have someone design a skin to match your desires. Tired of your old skin? Get a new one that is created from recycling your old one back into raw materials that is fed into the 3D printer!
I have seen 3D printers and they are the equivalent of a dot matrix b&w printer. The printer is slow in that it is making the part layer by layer and the "ink" has to solidify before the next layer can be added. As such, it is better for prototyping but not for mass production. 3D printing can be good for customizing a design and embedding features that can't be done through current manufacturing processes. 3D printers will take off once the "ink" can consist of multiple materials at the same time, conductive materials combined with transparent materials and insulator material can make more than just a body part.
Not only that, but imagine the economy when the only two tools the mechanic needs are a printer and an eraser.