A 3D-printed electric car that is about to go into production boasts an ultra-strong, ultra-light chassis that can take on the rigours of the highway with ease.
It wasn't long ago when 3D printing was a really cool concept that we liked to daydream about. Now, it's gearing up to change our lives. We've seen 3D-printed buildings, portraits, organs, prosthetics, food, couture, a moon base and even a pen for all your creative and repair needs. What's missing?
3D-printed transport, of course.
That, however, could change if engineer Jim Kor has his way. Heading up the team behind 3D-printed electric car Urbee, Kor has over 35 years of experience in designing automotive, bus, rail, agricultural and heavy mobile equipment, as well as civil structures and products for the aerospace and medical industries.
In conceptual, design and prototype stages, Kor's company — Kor Ecologic — is finally getting near full production of a 3D-printed electric car: the Urbee II.
So why 3D printing? It allows Kor to create an extraordinarily lightweight car. Not having to drag the weight of a metal chassis around saves on energy — but that's not the only way the Urbee II is using technology to save energy. The three-wheeled, two-seater car has a teardrop shape that is specially designed to reduce the Coefficient of Drag — that is, the amount of energy required to overcome aerodynamic resistance. According to the Urbee website, the Urbee II has half of a normal sports car.
Add to that a low frontal area, large in diameter motorcycle tyres (which covers more ground on the same torque as smaller tyres) and a reduction of maximum speed and acceleration, there doesn't seem to be a single element of the car that hasn't been designed for energy efficiency.
The prototype Urbee was built at 3D-printing company RedEye, using ABS plastic in Fused Deposition Modelling. The car is printed in large pieces, combining lots of small pieces into one 3D-printed part. The 544-kilogram vehicle takes around 2500 hours to print, with the prototype costing around US$50,000 to make, according to Wired.
The car isn't in production yet — but apparently, Kor already has 14 pre-orders. You can read more about the Urbee II here.