Sep 8, 2016 | By Benedict

3D printing enthusiasts and car fanatics have a lot in common. For one, there’s the endless obsession with statistics: minimum layer height, 0-60 mph, top (printing or driving) speeds, and all the rest. Additionally, both seemingly mismatched hobbyists enjoy the DIY aspects of building and tinkering with their machines, often meeting up with peers to show off what they have under the hood—be that a new set of NEMA 17 steppers or a V8. Given the immeasurable popularity of both 3D printers and gas-guzzling sprinters, it’s therefore no surprise that a fair number of passionate engineers have tried their hand at building a 3D printed car. To celebrate that fact, we’ve pulled together 25 of our favorite additively manufactured vehicles for your reading and viewing pleasure.

Of course, the somewhat ambiguous label of “3D printed car” comes with a few caveats, so let’s get them out of the way before we hit the road: firstly, no cars on this list are entirely 3D printed! Additive manufacturing, in its various forms, lends itself well to one-off chassis parts, plastic interior components, and even certain metal engine parts. To 3D print wheels, tires, brakes, and other critical parts does not, at present, make a great deal of practical sense. Therefore, when we say “3D printed car,” we mean a car with some number of 3D printed parts and some number of traditionally manufactured parts. Another important point is that many of these futuristic cars are at different stages of development: there are concepts; there are prototypes; there are even a few 3D printed cars ready for the highway. At the end of the day, however, the concept of the 3D printed car is in its absolute infancy, and what we see today is merely a glimpse at the massive and varied potential of the AM automobile.

Caveats aside, the limitations of 3D printing actually makes the huge progress being made in the crossover field of 3D printed cars all the more impressive. Several manufacturers have already dragged 3D printers into the garage, and many have emerged with functional parts, promising concepts, and—in one or two cases—fully drivable cars. In recognition of these impressive achievements, and without further ado, here is our unordered list of some of the most interesting (partially) 3D printed cars in the world: concepts, prototypes, and roadworthy vehicles.

3D printed car #1: LM3D by Local Motors

Price: $53,000

3D printer: BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing)

3D printed components: 75% of vehicle, incl. nearly all chassis and body panels

Status: Available to buy from 2017

Where else could we start on a roundup of 3D printed cars than the LM3D? Local Motors’ additive masterpiece is, at present, the only consumer 3D printed vehicle going into mass production, and several beta testers have already taken theirs on the road. The consumer 3D printed car will be produced at a Knoxville microfactory using two BAAM 3D printers, and will use 75% 3D printed components, including nearly all of the body panels and chassis. These parts will be made from a blend of 80% ABS and 20% carbon fiber.

The first model in the LM3D series will be the Swim, designed by Oregon-based competition winner Kevin Lo, and there are plans for further designs to be introduced in the future. Interestingly, Local Motors claims that its 3D printed cars will be safer than traditionally manufactured cars, and expects to finish crash testing by the end of the year. For safety reasons, the underpinnings of the vehicle will remain consistent across the series, but customers will eventually have the option of choosing fully customized aesthetic features for their vehicle, making some LM3Ds look radically different to others.

3D printed car #2: Blade by Divergent Microfactories

3D printer: DMLS

3D printed components: Aluminum joints (Nodes)

Status: Functional concept, plans for production

Appearances can be deceptive, but Divergent Microfactories' Blade, the world’s first 3D printed supercar, couldn’t be more different from the LM3D. Where Local Motors focused its BAAM-enabled 3D printing power on the LM3D’s exterior, the DMLS-printed components of the 1,388-pound Blade supercar can be found under the futuristic vehicle’s outer shell. That’s because Blade is made up of a number of a number of “Nodes,” 3D printed aluminum joints which connect pieces of carbon fiber tubing out of which the car’s chassis is built. The Nodes and tubing can be assembled in a matter of minutes, with the resulting chassis being 90% lighter than that of a traditional car. This lightness helps the vehicle go from 0-60 mph in about 2.5 seconds—faster than a McLaren P1 supercar.

Okay, so these 3D printed “Nodes” only make up a fraction of the entire Blade, and the rest of the vehicle is made using other manufacturing processes. However, the car’s creators believe that the AM-assisted modular design could effect a more small-scale approach to car production, a change which could have benefits for both consumers and the environment. “We’ve developed a sustainable path forward for the car industry that we believe will result in a renaissance in car manufacturing, with innovative, eco-friendly cars like Blade being designed and built in microfactories around the world,” said Divergent founder and CEO Kevin Czinger.

3D printed car #3: C16 Short Distance Vehicle by StreetScooter

3D printer: Stratasys Objet1000 Multi-material 3D Production System

3D printed components: panels, bumpers, skirts, wheel arches, some interior parts

Status: Functional prototype, no plans for production

Designed, built, and tested in one year, the StreetScooter C16 3D printed car uses a number of 3D printed components, both external and internal, made from Stratasys’ Digital ABS 3D printing material. The tiny vehicle was designed by experts at Aachen University in Germany and printed on a Stratasys Objet1000 3D printer. This mega 3D printer was used to create the C16’s exterior plastic parts, including the large front and back panels, door panels, bumper systems, side skirts, wheel arches, and lamp masks, while a few interior components, such as the retainer instrument board and some other smaller components, were also 3D printed.

Don’t expect to see the 3D printed C16 on the road anytime soon, because StreetScooter is now focused on larger, non-printed vehicles as it continues its aim to reduce emissions by creating environmentally friendly vehicles. The company, founded by Aachen academics in 2010, was acquired by DHL Germany in 2014.

3D printed car #4: Soulmate by EDAG

3D printer: FDM, SLM

3D printed components: Chassis, other

Status: Physical concept

EDAG, a German manufacturing company, has been carving out a reputation for itself as one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of 3D printed cars—concept cars, that is. While the 3D printed EDAG Soulmate isn’t roadworthy at present, it does showcase some interesting design ideas which use additive manufacturing to drastically reduce the mass of a car. The Soulmate was first unveiled at CES 2016 and later showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, and represents EDAG’s picture of a “smart car” of the future.

The Soulmate, EDAG’s latest 3D printed concept car, was actually a collaborative project between the auto futurists and another German company, Bosch, one of the world’s largest suppliers of car parts. The two companies wanted to create a car that functioned both as transport and as a “third living environment,” a concept exemplified by the Soulmate’s IoT capabilities. Containing far more than a TomTom and an iPod cable, the 3D printed Soulmate is endowed with a fully fledged smart system, enabling the driver to perform tasks such as letting postal workers into their smart-locked home with the touch of a button. The vehicle’s interface can also be controlled by gestures, allowing the driver to remain focused on the road.

The 3D printed skeletal interior of the Soulmate, a feature that is fast becoming EDAG’s hallmark, is covered by a fine fabric outer skin. Internal lights illuminate the skeleton from within, highlighting its structure on the car’s surface. To read more about how EDAG and its partners are using 3D printing to redefine car manufacturing, read this discussion about the EDAG NextGen Spaceframe.

3D printed car #5: Bloodhound SSC by Bloodhound Company

3D printer: SLS

3D printed components: Steering wheel, nose tip, auxiliary air intakes

Status: In development

Not impressed by the 3D printed cars on the list so far? Think you could outrace them all in your non-printed roadster? Okay then, what if we told you that the fastest car on Earth contained 3D printed parts? The Bloodhound SSC, a British supersonic land vehicle whose designers are attempting to break the land speed record by hitting or surpassing 1,000 mph, does in fact utilize a number of 3D printed parts. Although the majority of the supersonic vehicle is manufactured via traditional means, its steering wheel, nose tip, and auxiliary air intakes have all been made with SLS 3D printers.

In order to provide added control over the Bloodhound, its unique 3D printed steering wheel has been made to fit perfectly to the hands of driver Andy Green, the man who currently holds the world land speed record (763 mph) and who will attempt to beat his own record when he straps into the Bloodhound in October 2017. The creators of the Bloodhound have used additive manufacturing for select components only, ruling out 3D printing for certain parts on safety grounds: “Additive is great for a one-off, complex part, so for Bloodhound it's a really good way to save on tooling and machine holding, but if the properties in the component aren't there, we won't use it,” explained Conor La Grue, Bloodhound’s components chief.

3D printed car #6: Urbee by KOR Ecologic

3D printer: Stratasys Fortus 900mc (FDM)

3D printed components: Chassis, 50 large pieces

Status: First prototype completed, second unknown

Even though the Urbee project seems to have run out of steam over the last couple of years, the three-wheeled car/motorcycle hybrid deserves a mention for being the first largely 3D printed car on record. The droplet-shaped vehicle was built by a team of engineers at KOR Ecologic, an engineering firm led by Netherlands-born Canadian Jim Kor. Designed to be highly fuel-efficient and affordable, Urbee was once being prepared to drive two men and a dog between New York City and San Francisco on just 10 gallons of gas, potentially setting a new world record.

Urbee, the first 3D printed car created by Kor and his team, utilized 50 body components printed in ABS on a Stratasys FDM 3D printer. According to Kor, the Urbee 2, Urbee’s eventual successor, will contain many more 3D printed components, including the majority of the interior. Unfortunately, we are somewhat in the dark as to when (or if) me might get to see the Urbee 2. Commencement of the Urbee 2 project was announced in April 2013, with the team promising to work on the new vehicle “over the next few years.” Zero updates later, Urbee could either be on the brink of a groundbreaking announcement or have been completely abandoned. Can you hear us, Jim?

3D printed car #7: Project M by Shell

3D printer: “Plastic” / presumably FDM

3D printed components: 93 internal parts

Status: Physical concept, no plans for production

Although it might seem unusual to see an “energy-efficient city car” conceived by Shell, a multinational oil and gas company which would probably cease to exist if we all started driving low-energy vehicles, the partially 3D printed Project M concept car actually has an interesting history behind it. The tiny vehicle is a rethink of the T.25 street car, a concept designed by British car designer Gordon Murray back in 2010. Although the T.25 has received a lot of media attention over the last few years, no car manufacturer has yet picked up the design for production.

Shell’s Project M can therefore be seen as something of a revival for the T.25. The new vehicle is a partially 3D printed car with a three-cylinder, 660-cc petrol engine, and which could offer a 50% reduction in primary energy use when compared to a small family car. The new T.25 spinoff boasts a fuel consumption of 89.1 mpg (2.64 l/100 km) at 70 km/h (45 mph) and has a top speed of 156 km/h (97 mph), limited to 145 km/h (90 mph). It can go from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 15.8 secs.

According to Shell, its 550-kg (1,213-lb) 3D printed car could fit into a standard parking space three times, while two Project Ms could theoretically drive down a single motorway lane. More importantly, use of 3D printing enabled Shell to create certain internal components for the concept car in a short space of time: “Using this 3D printing technology we can produce complex plastic parts with no requirement for tooling, whilst allowing a very fast manufacturing time,” the Shell team wrote on its Project M blog. Sadly for eco-conscious city dwellers, Shell has no plans to take Project M into production, so it could be many more years before we see Gordon Murray’s T.25 design on the road.

3D printed car #8: Strati by Local Motors

3D printer: BAAM

3D printed components: All non-mechanical parts

Status: Functional concept

Long before it began work on the consumer-ready LM3D, Local Motors was busy creating Strati, the world’s first 3D printed electric car. Made with Cincinnati Incorporated’s BAAM 3D printer at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Strati made headlines at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago after being 3D printed, assembled, and road-tested in just six days. Mechanical components of the vehicle, such as its battery, motor, wiring, and suspension, were sourced from a number of suppliers, including Renault.

Despite its plans to take the LM3D into mass production, Local Motors hasn’t forgotten about the history-making Strati. Earlier this year, the Arizona-based company showcased a new Strati model featuring an NXP BlueBox, giving the car autonomous driving capabilities and IoT connectivity.

3D printed car #9: Light Cocoon by EDAG

3D printer: FDM, SLM

3D printed components: Chassis, other

Status: Physical concept

The EDAG Light Cocoon, perhaps the German manufacturer’s most iconic 3D printed concept car, convinced auto giant Bosch to team up with EDAG for the Soulmate project, and could yet convince a car manufacturer to take a gamble on 3D printed car production. The futuristic Light Cocoon was first seen at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, where it wowed attendees with its bionically optimized “skeleton” and lightweight textile outer skin. That external “Texapore Softshell” was supplied by outdoor clothing specialist Jack Wolfskin, proving that all kinds of businesses are excited to be a part of the EDAG vision.

Like other EDAG designs, the internal structure of the 3D printed Light Cocoon serves to reduce the total weight of the vehicle by removing material in areas of low stress: “The 'EDAG Light Cocoon' presents a stable, branch-like load bearing structure from the 3D printer, which only uses material where it is absolutely necessary,” explained Johannes Barckmann, EDAG’s Global Design Manager. With excitement about 3D printed cars growing by the day, will EDAG soon emerge from its cocoon with a production-ready vehicle?

3D printed car #10: Shelby Cobra by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

3D printer: BAAM

3D printed components: All non-mechanical parts

Status: One-off functional car, currently on tour

Car experts will quickly tell you that the Shelby Cobra, an Anglo-American sports car with a Ford V8 engine, is not a 3D printed car. Find yourself an owner of an original 1962 Shelby Cobra, and they might not even know what 3D printing is. But while it may be true that the iconic AC Cobra was not originally designed with CAD software nor 3D printed on a big area additive manufacturing 3D printer, there does exist a 3D printed replica of the classic car, created by experts at ORNL back in 2014. The beautiful 3D printed roadster is a sight to behold.

The first 3D printed Shelby Cobra may not be quite as valuable as the first ever non-printed Cobra, which recently sold for $13.75 million, but it does boast some impressive features. Coming from the same giant 3D printer used to build Local Motors’ 3D printed cars, the 3D printed Shelby Cobra is, according to ORNL, a “3D printed laboratory on wheels.” Its modular and flexible design makes it a platform for rapid development, and its “plug and play” components such as a new engine, hybrid system designs, and power electronics / wireless charging systems allow researchers to quickly test out new ideas. Perhaps most importantly, the 3D printed sports car has outgoing president Barack Obama’s seal of approval: “Besides being a cool car, it’s a great example of how a hub like this operates,” Obama said when visiting ORNL.

3D printed car #11: Genesis by EDAG

3D printer: FDM, SLM

3D printed components: Chassis, other

Status: Physical concept

A year before showcasing its 3D printed Light Cocoon car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, German engineering company EDAG rocked up to the Swiss car event with an even weirder 3D printed car. That car, the EDAG Genesis, is a 3D printed vehicle inspired by none other than a turtle. Indeed, the wheel-free Genesis does not resemble anything you’re likely to see on the road today (unless you happen to live near a badly fenced turtle sanctuary), but it did offer a glimpse into the company’s future experiments with 3D printed, biologically inspired structures.

The structure of the 3D printed car body is, according to EDAG, based on the physiological patterns of a turtle shell, a body part which offers the creature protection from attack. While some drivers might fear the idea of being “protected” by FDM-printed plastic parts, the company suggested that 3D printing with a mixture of plastic and carbon fiber could produce safe, durable components. “Unlike other technologies, FDM makes it possible for components of almost any size to be produced, as there are no pre-determined space requirements to pose any restrictions,” a representative explained. “By introducing endless carbon fibers during the production process, it is also possible to achieve the required strength and stiffness values.”

3D printed car #12: Copen by Daihatsu

3D printer: Stratasys Fortus (FDM)

3D printed components: “Effect Skins”

Status: Plans for production in 2017

People have been driving the Daihatsu Copen, a two-door roadster from Japan’s oldest car manufacturer, since 1999. However, only a handful of those drivers can say that their Copen features a 3D printed “Effect Skin,” created by designer Kota Nezu and 3D modeling artist Sun Junjie and printed by Stratasys. If the project goes ahead as planned, the 3D printed Daihatsu Copen skins will be available in a range of styles and colors, giving drivers the chance to radically rebrand their vehicle. The prints are, of course, entirely aesthetic, so this is no great feat of 3D printed engineering—from a mechanical point of view at least. The exercise does, however, show that major car manufacturers are prepared to get on board with additive manufacturing.

Prototypes of the 3D printed Effect Skins were printed by Stratasys on a Fortus FDM 3D printer, and are made from ASA Thermoplastic, a durable and UV-resistant printing material. Excitingly, these stylish panels could even pave the way for more ambitious future 3D printing projects from Daihatsu: “We’re interested in expanding the market for customized plastic-bodied cars, and we see Stratasys 3D printing technology as extremely effective for this,” commented Osamu Fujishita, General Manager of Corporate Planning at Daihatsu’s Brand DNA Office.

3D printed car #13: Sanya by Sanya Si Hai

3D printer: FDM

3D printed components: Chassis, 50 parts

Status: Functional concept

China’s first 3D printed car may not be a thing of beauty—not from a classical design perspective, at least—but it does represent a milestone for the country’s additive manufacturing industry. Back in 2014, the 500 kg Sanya was built at a cost of just 11,000 yuan ($1,700), and consists mostly of Tyrant Gold plastic filament, hence the outlandish appearance of the 3D printed car. Capable of speeds up to 25 mph, the electric two-seater made headlines in 2015 when its creators took it for a test drive on the streets of Hainan province, southern China.

Sanya Si Hai, the 3D technology company behind the Sanya 3D printed car, can also claim to have built China’s first 3D printed boat, a two-meter vessel which two people can fit in. The 35 kg 3D printed boat was printed on the same FDM machine that built the car, and was first showcased in August 2014. Don’t hold your breath for our list of the best 3D printed boats though.

3D printed car #14: uBox by Toyota

3D printer: FDM

3D printed components: Dashboard, vents, door trims

Status: Functional concept

Toyota’s unusual uBox concept, a collaboration with the Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in South Carolina, is designed by students, for students. A two-year project between the two parties, known internally as “Deep Orange,” culminated in the creation of the uBox, an electric car with a bold, “youthful” exterior targeted squarely at Generation Z. While the majority of the car is machined in traditional ways, its dashboard components, vents, and door trims can be 3D printed for added customization. When the project was first announced, Toyota said it planned to set up an online hub for uBox drivers to share their 3D printable designs.

As well as sporting 3D printed components, the uBox features a rearrangeable interior, and was built with a pultrusion manufacturing technique for bonding carbon fibre rails to aluminum. This method was employed to support the car’s curved glass roof. According to Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson's graduate engineering program, Deep Orange turned out to be something of a boot camp for automotive development. “Deep Orange gives students’ hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build,” he said.

3D printed car #15: Telluride by Kia

3D printer: Unknown

3D printed components: Some interior components

Status: Functional concept

Kia Motors, a South Korean car manufacturer, demonstrated its first use of 3D printing in auto production with the Telluride, a three-row, seven-passenger SUV concept. The car packs a 3.5 L Lambda II V6 GDi engine, suicide doors, and 3D printed internal components, and was first seen at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. At present, Kia has no plans to take the Telluride into production, though some of its features could be used in future SUV designs.

“The Kia Telluride makes an aesthetic statement for the Kia brand as a bold, all-new luxury SUV with an abundance of advanced technology, focusing particular attention on the experience and comfort of second-row occupants,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer at Kia Design Center America (KDCA). “Longer, wider and taller than the recently redesigned Sorento CUV, Telluride allows us to envision what a full-size seven-passenger SUV from Kia could look like.”

3D printed car #16: EXP 10 Speed 6 by Bentley

3D printer: SLS / SLM

3D printed components: Grille mesh, exhausts, door handles, side vents

Status: Functional concept, plans for production

Bentley’s first car to use metal 3D printing technology is the Speed 6, a hybrid concept car first seen at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Excitingly, Bentley has said that the partially 3D printed car will go on sale some time between 2018 and 2020, and will be available in coupe and roadster versions, starting at £120,000 ($157,000). While Bentley had previously used Objet 3D printers to prototype parts, the Speed 6 features end-use parts created on an unnamed metal 3D printer.

“Cutting-edge 3D metal printing technology has allowed the grille mesh, exhausts, door handles and side vents to be delivered with micro-scale design detail precision,” Bentley explained. “The iconic Bentley mesh grille, for example, is no longer a flat plane of latticework but includes varying depth with a complex 3D geometry only visible when viewed at an angle. Bentley’s renowned quilted leather has inspired three dimensional texture to the precision glass of the headlamps.”

3D printed car #17: NTU Venture 8 by Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore)

3D printer: FDM

3D printed components: Over 150, incl. majority of upper body / cabin

Status: Functional prototype, competing in races

The NTU Venture 8 is a four-wheel urban micro-car initially designed for the 2015 edition of the Shell Eco-marathon Asia, an exhibition and series of “races” (where medals are dished out for fuel efficiency rather than speed) for environmentally friendly cars. Impressively, the 3D printed car was built by a team of undergraduate students at the NTU’s College of Engineering, and uses energy from both a roof-mounted solar panel and an onboard battery. The students wanted to create a vehicle with customizable 3D printed upper cabin so that drivers could alter the design to suit their own driving needs—this vision was made possible by building a strong carbon fiber lower chassis upon which a 3D printed upper cabin, made from printed ABS, is mounted. The 150 3D printed parts of the Venture 8 took around three months to print, so its creators have no immediate plans to take the 320 x 130 x 120 cm car into production.

The Venture 8 scooped three awards at the 2016 Shell Eco-marathon Asia, in Vehicle Design, Communications, and Safety. The 3D printed car also finished in third position in the Urban Concept (Battery Electric) race, after which it was selected to compete in the prestigious Shell Drivers’ World Championship in London. “With 3D printing technology, we are not only able to improve the car with customizable reinforced parts, but also ensure that there is minimal waste,” said Team manager Ilmi Bin Abdul Wahab, 26, a final-year computer engineering student. “The carbon reinforced plastic ensures that the car is as safe and strong as conventional ones on the road.”

3D printed car #18: FNX13 by Changsha University of Science & Technology (CSUST)

3D printer: Unknown

3D printed components: Air intake components, steering wheel

Status: Functional prototype

Back in 2013, 40 students from the School of Automobile and Mechanical Engineering at the Changsha University of Science & Technology (CSUST) built a 3D printed racing car to compete in the Formula Student China (FSC) competition. The FNX13, which uses a Honda 600CC motorcycle engine, is an upgrade on a previous model, the FNX12. “The body is completely different from FNX-12," explained Liu Ze, the team leader. “Last year it weighed 270 kilograms and this year only 220 kg, 50 kilograms lighter than the earlier version.”

Although the main body of the vehicle is carbon fiber, 3D printing was used to create FNX13’s air intake components and steering wheel. According to the students behind the 3D printed car, over 230,000 yuan ($37,570) was spent on the project. “It is still too expensive for mass production.” Liu admitted. “The cost of 3D printing is still high. Hopefully one day the cost of 3D printers and materials will fall to the point where everyone can easily own and use them.”

3D printed car #19: Eco-car by Iron Warriors

3D printer: Zortrax M200 (FDM)

3D printed components: Body parts, gears

Status: Functional prototype

Another student-built entry for the Shell Eco-Marathon, this time for its Europe section, is this fuel-efficient 3D printed vehicle from the Iron Warriors, a team of engineers from Poland. By using parts printed on Zortrax M200 FDM 3D printers, the team was able to reduce the weight of its eco-car and increase its fuel efficiency—incredibly, the tiny car was able to cover 640 km on just a liter of fuel.

“3D printed gears, which are part of the propulsion transmission, are both durable and 3 times lighter than if we did it with the aluminum,” said Szymon Madziara, one of the Iron Warriors. “To reduce the mass, we 3D printed parts for carrying heavy loads, and then covered them with carbon fiber. The effect was fantastic, so we decided to use this technique for our next vehicle—the goal is to reach 1,000 km on 1 liter.”

3D printed car #20: Racing car by KU e-Racing

3D printer: Stratasys FDM

3D printed components: Shutdown button, exhaust fan housing, air intake system

Status: Functional prototype

One of the most successful teams to take part in the UK-held Formula Student engineering competition, over the last few years is the e-Racing team from Kingston University, UK. In order to become the highest scoring electric team in the annual event in both 2013 and 2014, KU used 3D printing to create a number of small components for their lightweight speedster. These parts were printed in Stratasys’ ABSplus 3D printing material on a Stratasys 3D printer.

“Using additive manufacturing, we were able to overcome our main developmental concern to manufacture parts that could withstand the grueling pace and heat of motor-racing,” said Aldus von der Burg, team leader at KU e-Racing. “With the toughness of our 3D printed parts, the results did not disappoint, particularly the shutdown button mounting which needed to withstand sudden shock when slamming the button hard during an emergency.”

3D printed car #21: Eco-car by Euregiorunners

3D printer: Various Ultimaker FDM

3D printed components: Dashboard, steering wheel, mirrors, door handles

Status: Functional prototype

Another Shell Eco-Marathon Europe contender, this 3D printed car was built by students at the Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. The team, named “Euregiorunners,” used a number of Ultimaker desktop 3D printers to create 3D printed components for the dashboard, steering wheel, mirrors, and door handles, helping to reduce the weight of the compact vehicle and improve its fuel efficiency.

As with all contestants in the Shell Eco-Marathon, Euregiorunners had to make their vehicle as green as possible, and additive manufacturing helped them to do so. The team entered its battery-powered electric car in the UrbanConcept category. “The main goal is to make a car that is as sustainable as possible, and the energy consumption must be as low as possible,” said Professor Rob van Loevezijn of Zuyd University's Faculty of Beta Sciences and Technology.

3D printed car #22: Formic Acid Sustainable Transportation by Team FAST

3D printer: Ultimaker FDM

3D printed components: Prototype parts, other

Status: Concept

Easily one of the most unusual 3D printed vehicles on this list, this concept car from Team FAST, a group of experts from the Technical University (TU) of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, is fueled by formic acid, a natural substance produced by ants. The group hopes that, by building an emission-neutral car powered by the natural substance, it can provide a functional alternative to petrol cars. According to Team FAST, a car driving on formic acid could travel up to 500km on a full tank, without the need for recharging or refilling. At present, the team has only created a scaled-down model of their planned vehicle, but hopes to create a functional prototype in the near future.

After initially using a homemade 3D printer for rapid prototyping, Team FAST eventually got in touch with Ultimaker (through Innofil3D), who provided the team with some FDM 3D printers. “3D printing allows us to speed up the prototyping cycle significantly,” explained Team FAST member Max Wentzel. “Lots of parts are unique and have to be specifically designed. The fact that we can do that right inside our office is simply amazing.”

3D printed car #23: Aston Martin DB4 replica by Ivan Sentch

3D printer: Solidoodle FDM

3D printed components: 2,500 small parts for plastic mold

Status: In development

Much like the 3D printed Shelby Cobra created by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this Aston Martin DB4 could someday turn out to be a realistic replica of a classic car. Ivan Sentch, a programmer from Auckland, New Zealand, has been using a Solidoodle 3D printer to create a huge 3D printed mold for an Aston Martin DB4, which will then be used to create a fiberglass body for the retro vehicle. Considering the project is the programmer’s first attempt at 3D printing, the mammoth five-year project certainly seems ambitious.

The fiberglass body of the vehicle, made using the 3D printed mold, will house the engine, electrics, suspension, and drivetrain of a 1993 Nissan Skyline. Due to the magnitude of the project, however, Sentch doesn’t expect to be racing the replica for another few years. “There is months of months of prepping before I can make [it] into a mould,” he said. “It then has to be sanded back to a glassy finish.”

3D printed car #24: Mercedes-Benz DTW Le Mans 2030 by Martin Chatelier

3D printer: “Michelin 3D Tire Print System”

3D printed components: Tires

Status: Concept

We occasionally get a bit of stick from readers for posting about highly fanciful 3D printed concept cars from amateur designers. “They’re not real!” you say, with some justification. This Mercedes-Benz concept is perhaps the epitome of those highly ambitious concepts, but its design seemed so interesting that we just had to include it on this list. Designed by Martin Chatelier, a transportation design student from Sevres in France, the DTW Le Mans 2030 is actually more of a 3D printing car than a 3D printed car, featuring a unique air powering system, graphene body, and an independent 3D tire-printing system.

Clearly, the most interesting part of Chatelier’s highly original design is its “Michelin 3D Tire Print System,” a set of tiny 3D printer nozzles set up behind each tire which can spray gum onto the tires of the vehicle as it drives, effectively re-surfacing the tires as they become worn over the course of a race. Realistic or not, the idea that 3D printing could be used as an alternative to the classic pitstop routine is a fascinating one.

3D printed car #25: Olli by Local Motors

3D printer: BAAM

3D printed components: Chassis, other

Status: On the road in Washington DC, may be introduced in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas

Technically a bus and not a car, we still had to include the autonomous, self-driving, 3D printed Olli from Local Motors. Unveiled earlier this summer, the 3D printed bus uses IBM Watson’s Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, a cognitive learning platform for vehicles, which enables it to learn new routes and maneuvers while driving. The vehicle uses a number of 3D printed components, contributing to its compact and lightweight design.

Unlike any other 3D printed vehicles on this list, Olli even has something of a personality: the bus can chat to passengers and discuss topics such as how it works and how it is making its route-making decisions. “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile's myriad sensors and systems,” said IBM’s Harriet Green.

With so much progress being made in the area of 3D printed cars, it might not be long before we see a significant number of additive autos out on the highway. We’ll be there at every fork in the road, reporting on all the latest and most exciting developments.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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