(Photos courtesy of KOR EcoLogic)
Jim Kor is printing a car. That was the Urbee, the world's first '3D printed' car, a two-passenger hybrid car designed to be incredibly fuel efficient and inexpensive to own.
The 'Urbee' was created in Sep 2011. it was completely different to the normal way car manufacturers build a car. Kor, an engineer and entrepreneur from Winnipeg, Manitoba, used Stratasys' 3D printing service to create the prototype for Urbee.
Urbee's entire body is 3D printed with an additive process. All exterior components, including the glass panel prototypes, were created using Dimension 3D printers and Fortus 3D printers at Stratasys' digital manufacturing service – RedEye on Demand.
3D printing can create objects that are impossible with conventional manufacturing, says Kor. For instance, instead of using sheet metal with a uniform thickness, he can create large, intricate pieces that vary in thickness as needed to strengthen and lighten the car. "The process has the potential to put the material exactly where you want it and not put it where you don't want it," he said.
Urbee is made using only 50 large pieces. 3D printing eliminates a lot of parts, for example, Kor 3D printed the bumper with ductwork included for both the dashboard and the rest of the car. It allows him to attach the windshield and dash directly to the bumper, with half the weight and rolling resistance, he said.
3D printing made it easy and efficient to make design changes and it also eliminates tooling, machining and handwork.
At RedEye the whole 3D printing process is called 'lights out' manufacturing - you can just push the button, turn out the lights and go home, and 3D printer will take care of everything. Small printing job can be done overnight. Printing big parts can take a few days.
"To have body parts that take days or weeks to make is pretty fast," Kor said. "Other methods are months away."
"It's all about integrating as many parts as possible into one part to make it as efficient as possible," said Noah Zehringer, a senior applications engineer for Stratasys.
The Urbee bumper, which is made in two pieces, required 300 hours to finish, or 150 hours for each half, Zehringer said. Printing the whole car should take 2,500 hours.
Kor and his company announced that they were starting Urbee 2. The first 3D printed car Urbee 1 was just the "skin". The Urbee 2 they are working on will contain interior, all internal parts, including 44 3D printed parts. Then the team will drive it from San Francisco to New York City with 10 gallons of gas -- one tankful, and ideally, using pure ethanol.
The initial price of Urbee 1 was around $50,000, Urbee 2 hasn't been priced yet, but Kor said it would be an economy car for students. He has got 14 orders so far. "I envision it will be like a Model-T or VW (Bug) for our century," the inventor said.
Posted in 3D printing Applications
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