Here’s a scale model of the first 3D printed car, the Urbee 1. The full sized version will not be completely 3D printed, it will have a metal engine, electric motor and chassis, but its body work is 3D printed.
Jim Kor, an engineer from Winnipeg, Canada, says his two-passenger hybrid car is almost ready for production. The body is 3D printed in about 50 large pieces which in total take around 2,500 hours to print. The Urbee’s bumper, which consists of two pieces, requires around 300 hours to finish.
The main advantage of manufacturing a car body with 3D printers is that many different parts can be combined into one body piece. 3D printing the bumper with integrated ductwork allowed the windshield and dash to be directly attached to the bumper. This makes the Urbee’s shape more aerodynamic than a Toyota Prius, with half the weight and rolling resistance, leading to greater fuel efficiencies.
3D printing also allows Kor to optimize the design of the panels with only the exact amount of material where its needed and extra material where additional strength is required. This means that the Urbee carries little extra weight that can negatively harm fuel economy.
The body panels are being produced by RedEye, an on-demand 3D printing company, using a 88 Fortus 900mc Stratasys 3D printers. The Fortus printers utilize Fused Deposition Modeling to 3D print parts, and can be left overnight to produce parts without human intervention.
“..like a Model-T or VE Bug for our century”, he said.
There’s no launch price for the Urbee 1 as of yet, but Kor hopes it will be an economy car. However for this production method to be commercially viable, the cost of 3D printing a low number of large intricate parts will have to drop down to a level that is less than the cost of manufacturing requiring thousands of parts that have to be assembled.
Here’s a video during a road test of a prototype Urbee 3D printed car.