One day printers are being 3D printing., the next they're building cars. The Urbee hybrid electric car is the first to be created by
Green company Kor Ecologic and 3D printers Stratsys are showing off the Urbee at US motor show SEMA. They've minimised the weight, aerodynamic drag and tyre size, and kept the speed and acceleration down to make it as efficient as possible. At just 40 inches tall, the car is as low to the ground as the lowest production car ever made, the Ford GT-40.
Urbee is designed to store and use exactly the amount of solar and wind energy you can collect with solar panels and windmills on a one-car garage in one day. Longer trips can fire up the ethanol-guzzling engine. The makers reckon it can achieve 200mpg on the open road and 100mpg in city conditions.
The 3D printing begins with a 3D model created on a computer. A technique called fused deposition modelling then builds up the object layer-by-layer, depositing quickly-hardening polymer droplets on each pass. The platform moves down a fraction after each pass so the next layer can be added, with complex shapes supported by water-soluble material that's then hosed off until finally a car chassis is revealed. This is then attached to this go-kart looking contraption.
If the printer is anything like the one we have in our office, that's the point where you notice it's printed the wrong way round, in the wrong colour, and with one side chopped off.
The makers reckon they could print between 2,000 and 3,000 cars a year, which would set you back anywhere between £18,500 and £31,000. Mass production would see the price falling to as low as £6,200.
For more electrical automadness, check out our, plus some that could eat the Urbee for breakfast.