Jan 26, 2018 | By Benedict

Hackrod, a California-based automotive startup working in partnership with Autodesk, is developing a new platform for vehicle development that uses generative design, virtual reality, 3D printing, and a cloud-based supply chain. The company will develop 50 new cars for the movie Autonomo.

It’s not often that a successful Hollywood director makes the transition from the world of cinema to the world of 3D printing. In fact, Hackrod CEO and co-founder Mike McCoy might be the very first. In 2012, his award-winning entertainment studio Bandito Brothers was behind the Navy SEALS drama and box office hit Act of Valor, which McCoy himself produced and directed. Today, he’s raising funds for the car company of the future.

With an infrastructure that combines generative design, virtual reality, 3D printing, and a cloud-based supply chain, automotive startup Hackrod is a car company like no other. Its in-development approach will enable the additive manufacturing of “bespoke vehicle solutions,” making the customer the designer of their own car.

Today, Hackrod is attempting to raise funding for its ambitious business using First Democracy VC, a new equity crowdfunding portal from MicroVentures and Indiegogo. Using that crowdfunding platform, the company wants to raise between $50,000 and $1.07 million, in connection with an equity financing of at least $1 million. Perks for investors ($10,000+) include first option on the company’s stunning La Bandita sports car.

So is this a new dawn for automotive production? And consequently, is Hackrod a sound investment? The company’s lofty goals certainly sound exciting: the company says it aims to connect future auto manufacturing technologies—crowdsourcing, cloud, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and advanced manufacturing—to redefine the way vehicles are designed, engineered, and manufactured.

Ultimately, this embrace of new technological approaches will allow Hackrod customers to pick and choose custom options for their car, while allowing the digital platform to fill in the blanks: handling component sourcing, engineering analysis, and hardware integration. Designing a car is thus as easy as “playing a video game.”

The biggest demonstration of Hackrod’s potential could, excitingly, arrive in the most spectacular format. Since 2015, the company has been conducting research for Autonomo, an “action car movie set in a future battle between autonomous systems and the American dream of the open road.” The movie will be produced by McCoy, and will feature 50 cars developed by Hackrod. These cars will also serve as templates for future Hackrod customers.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on at this company, but the promise of 3D printed vehicles is something we can’t resist taking a closer look at. For what it’s worth, Hackrod appears to have done its homework: “Currently, some vehicle parts such as production dashboards and cooling vents are already made using additive manufacturing,” the company says. “The combination of increased additive manufacturing adoptions and advances in technology could increase the number of additively manufactured components in the future.”

But it’s not just dashboards and vents that Hackrod has earmarked for the 3D printer. It thinks as many elements as the powertrain, frame, body, doors, OEM parts, electronics, wheels, and interiors could all be 3D printed in various ways, using a combination of selective laser melting (SLM), electron beam melting (EBM), stereolithography (SLA), and other technologies. Use of 3D printing, Hackrod says, can turn a four-month, $500,000 engine manifold prototype into a four-day, $3,000 one.

While the entrepreneurial McCoy has extensive experience in the automotive world, it’s the movie guru’s colleagues who will be handling the additive manufacturing side of Hackrod. CPO Felix Holst has moved from the toy industry to the music business and back again, and has spent the last two years researching VR, AI, and additive manufacturing; CTO Slade Gardner, on the other hand, has experience in equipment configuration, materials development, and engineering transition for large additive manufacturing, aerospace composite structures, nano-materials, and thermoplastic composites companies.

Further expertise in all things 3D will come from a company much more familiar to our readers. Hackrod currently has a partnership with 3D printing software giant Autodesk that will allow the automotive company and its customers to create virtual car prototypes using the Autodesk VRED 3D visualization and virtual prototyping software.

Hackrod first appeared on our radar back in 2016, when the company showcased some incredible 3D printed dune buggies generated using AI technology.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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