World’s first ‘printed’ car rolled off the 3D printing press – and it actually works


Last updated at 10:54 PM on 23rd September 2011

The world’s first ‘printed’ car has finally rolled off the printing press.

The ‘Urbee’ was made using a special printer which built up layer upon layer of bodywork – almost as if the car was ‘painted’ into existence, except using layers of ultra-thin composite that are slowly ‘fused’ into a solid.

But unlike most ‘innovations’ in cars, this one won’t break down after 5 years – Urbee is built to last 30. Project leader Jim Kor, told MailOnline today: ‘For us, this unveiling was quite a milestone.

Built to last: The highly-durable material used in ‘additive layer manufacturing’ is said to last for 30 years

Underneath is a petrol and electric hybrid engine which helps make it one of the greenest cars in the world.

Experts have said the car uses eight times less energy than a similar vehicle and can go can go 200mpg on the motorway.

It also has a sleek, futuristic design which makes it look like a prop from a science fiction film like the Fifth Element.

The ‘printing’ process, however, it what has attracted so much attention: it was completely different to the normal way car manufacturers build a car, which is to bolt chunks of bodywork on where they need to go.

Engineers on the Urbee instead put layers of ultra thin composite material on top of each other so they become fused together to make it 3D in a process called ‘additive layer manufacturing’.

Kor says, ‘We are a small group of designers and engineers in Winnipeg trying to make a difference.

‘Making things this way could revolutionize how we produce things. It has certainly changed my way of thinking about manufacturing.

‘This process of 3-D printing turned into ‘digital manufacturing’ would change the way we replace parts within machines.’

The ‘printed’ car has drawn a lot of attention due to its unique production method

The Urbee, which took 15 years to make, has three wheels, two seats and a combustion engine in case of emergencies.

It can be charged for a few pence from a normal plug socket or from a small solar panel array or wind turbine.

The Urbee has a small single cylinder engine that generate a mere eight horsepower, yet it can go up to 70mph if necessary because it is so light and efficient.

Even driving around the city it can do 100mpg and Canadian firm Kor EcoLogic, which designed it, insists that it could become a viable runaround for normal people.

Project leader Jim Kor told the TEDxWinnipeg conference that the vehicle was amongst the greenest ever made.

He said the way it was printed ‘only puts material where one needs it’.

‘It is an additive process, building the part essentially one ‘molecule’ of material at a time, ultimately with no waste,’ he added.

Urbee, 3-D printed vehicle prototyle

The small engine of the Urbee may only be able to produce 8 horsepower, but the vehicle can still reach 70mph

‘This process can do many materials, and our goal would be to use fully-recycled materials.’

Although the prototype has finally been completed it will be some time before the Urbee is available to buy in car showrooms.

The team behind it still have to raise the money for a second prototype, which will be at least $1million (£610,000).

Even then it will cost up to $50,00 (£32,000) to buy new, although the price should drop if it is mass produced.

Other professions which have shown an interest in additive layer manufacturing including medicine with some suggestion that prosthetic body parts could eventually be ‘printed’ to the size and shape they are required.

via Urbee: The world’s first ‘printed’ car rolling off the 3D printing presses… | Mail Online.

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