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3-D Printed Car Nears Production

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the made-of-3-d-printed-legos dept.

Transportation 93

An anonymous reader writes "An article at Wired shows just how close we are to a 3-D printed car. Jim Kor's 'Urbee 2' design is a lightweight teardrop shape with three wheels. The engine, chassis, and wheels aren't printed, of course, but much of the car is formed layer-by-layer out of ABS plastic. It takes about 2,500 hours of printer time to create the whole thing. Assembly is easier, though, since many different parts can be consolidated into just a few. 'To negotiate the inevitable obstacles presented by a potentially incredulous NHSTA and DOT, the answer is easy. "In many states and many countries, Urbee will be technically registered as a motorcycle," Kor says. It makes sense. With three wheels and a curb weight of less than 1,200 pounds, it's more motorcycle than passenger car. No matter what, the bumpers will be just as strong as their sheet-metal equivalents. "We're planning on making a matrix that will be stronger than FDM," says Kor. He admits that yes, "There is a danger in breaking one piece and have to recreate the whole thing." The safety decisions that'll determine the car's construction lie ahead. Kor and his team have been tweaking the safety by using crash simulation software, but the full spectrum of testing will have to wait for an influx of investment cash.'"

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93 comments

Useless and stupid. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033325)

I can already buy a car that is made from steel, and I won't look like a dipshit while driving it. This is nothing more than yet another dumb hippy idea, like electric "cars" that is being pushed by environazi's who want to take the fun and the interest out of everything.

Re:Useless and stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033353)

Get off the computer grandpa. It's time for your medication.

Re:Useless and stupid. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033369)

This thing makes a Prius look like a Hemi Charger. You'd have to be a royal fucking cunt to buy a Prius, and you'd have to be a pimple on that cunt to by this urbee thing.

Fuck that shit. I'm building a coal powered steam car, and those envirocunts can all suck my dust.

know how I know it's a pipe dream? (4, Informative)

waddgodd (34934) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033377)

The (non-existent yet) engine is supposed to be a 10 HP Diesel, but "the head engineer is planning to take the latest prototype from San Francisco to New York on 10 gallons of gas, preferably pure ethanol" (FTFA). Diesel-cycle engines work better on esters rather than alcohols. Even assuming that you could keep a diesel-cycle engine happy with ethanol (which is an open question), the modifications required to make it work will basically make it useless for the standard diesel you find at truck stops. Had the engineer said that he planned to go SFO->NYC on 10 gallons of fuel, preferably biodiesel (which has more in common with cooking oil than liquor), I'd have more confidence that the engineer knew a hawk from a handsaw.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033485)

That's 2,905 miles (4675 km). They're estimating 290 MPG. 0.81 L / (100 km)

VW had a prototype out for the 1L car that was much more streamlined and still only got 1L/100 km.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033509)

You can use compression engines with alcohols, but yeah that change will then exclude running pump fuel.

Besides pure ethanol is nasty stuff for an engine. No diesel fuel pump is going to like it either.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033617)

It will have a Diesel Cycle engine, that is all. It might well be running an insane rpm with a pseudo 2-stroke cycle (ignition on every cycle) with inlet/outlet controlled by solenoids; a computerised fly-by-wire engine.. There are lots of clever designs around these days that break the 'rules' of traditional, entrenched, engine design.

ie. Traditional automotive diesels might not work well with ethanol, but that does not mean it is true for all diesel cycle designs.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033651)

It's clear they have no idea what they're doing...

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034037)

I didn't rtfa but maybe the prototype doesn't have the diesel engine, so the engineer's test is using an ethanol friendly engine.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034443)

Well, I'm glad they're working on this.

When they can get to where they can print out a 1969 Camaro Z28, I'll be first in line to buy a printer!!

I can afford something that gets 10 MPG....but would be nice to have a 'new' one!!

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43035577)

Wait, you can afford to destroy the planet? Are you an elderly person with no children or family or something?

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036137)

Wait, you can afford to destroy the planet? Are you an elderly person with no children or family or something?

A little alarmist, aren't we?

And it isn't any worse than all those folks out there driving huge SUV's and other trucks that "aren't needed" either.....at least you'll be able to see over me a little better.

Honestly, I'm not all that worried about it either...the world isn't going to end anytime in my lifetime due to pollution, global warming, or anything else affected by me or my actions, so, why should it bother me?

Life is short, I plan to spend every moment of mine making myself happy and enjoy it, and nice muscle car (with a bit of update for better handling) is what makes me happy.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (3, Interesting)

Rhys (96510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034207)

I'm bemused the assumption is the engineer is an idiot, not the reporter or marketdroid that wrote it.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43035575)

My assumption was that most of the trip would be done on electric, presumably recharging along the way.

Re:know how I know it's a pipe dream? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43040199)

Diesel-cycle engines work better on esters rather than alcohols.

That might well be true, I don't know, but I do know that E95 has been successfully used in a road test without significantly increasing wear or reducing power. They increased compression, but this was in a direct-injected diesel which would have had low compression compared to an old-school indirect-injected model, since they said they increased it to around 22:1, which is about what my mercedes and my ford both run. So if you had a dinky IDI you could probably reasonably run it on E95. But if you're talking about direct injection, it probably won't work without modification. An engine that size, though, I would imagine to be IDI.

Stronger than Steel (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033421)

From the title of TFA: Stronger than Steel.

I doubt it.

Re:Stronger than Steel (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033523)

I don't. Lots of common materials are stronger than steel in either compression or tension or for a given mass. Most hit only one of those, the rare materials that get all three costs many times what steel costs and have far more complicated fabbing processes. Like this 3D printed car, which I bet costs a lot more than stamping body panels with a transfer press.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033847)

I'm not saying other materials aren't stronger than steel. Obviously carbon fibre is, and is already used in car manufacture. But strong materials rely on specific crystalisation structures (steel) or fibres (carbon fibre).And those don't tend to magically come about from melting some goo in the nozzle of a 3D printer. 3D printed stuff is fragile.

Heck if their process were really stronger than steel, why are they making the chassis out of steel? Duh!

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034285)

They are spraying down layers of ABS. This may well be stronger than similar mass steel, just because the density is so low compared to steel. This is typical of people promising magic. They lie by omission.

Re:Stronger than Steel (2)

mlts (1038732) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034833)

I wonder if they can do a two-stage composite process... have a steel chassis set up, then have the 3D printer do its "printing" around and encapsulate the frame in the design completely. Done right, it would be similar to rebar in concrete, producing both the shape wanted, but with far more strength than the plastic alone.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year and a half ago | (#43039625)

Or maybe you can stretch carbon fiber across the unit, lay down ABS, stretch it back, lay down more ABS... change the angle 45 degrees...

But that's not what this company is doing.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033871)

Exactly my thought (you may behave as if you'd have been moderated +1 Insightful)

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033927)

It may have a higher yield strength than steel, but it snaps at that point instead of continuing to deform. That means it will be strong enough to drive, but will not pass a crash test. Game over.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034175)

It can still pass a crash test if you mold pieces to break at known points. They do this will all carbon fibre cars. It is super expensive.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034245)

Are there any carbon fiber cars that do not have a metal chassis?

Re:Stronger than Steel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034399)

yes [about.com] . None on "normal" cars.

The car from this article has a metal chassis. There are no ABS chassis that I am aware of.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034457)

Most of them have some metal and use the engine as a chassis member. There are many that have some chassis parts that are not metal. I do not know of any without metal at all in the chassis and since you would be using the engine as a chassis member I doubt you could build such a thing.

There are quite a few that do use the structure as part of the crash safety system.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034853)

The steel chassis could easily be very much weaker than the plastic body.

Materials aren't only chosen for their strength. Maybe they want to use a steel chassis which is less likely to deform under light stress, but will catastrophically fail well before the plastic panels do.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year and a half ago | (#43035225)

No, ABS does not, and never will have a higher yield strength than steel.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036079)

For a given mass it does when both are a fixed area.

So if you have a 1 ft sq of material, ABS and steel and both must mass only a few grams the ABS will be stronger.

This sounds misleading and is why they say it that way.

Re:Stronger than Steel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43037485)

Yield strength is not calculated with a material's mass. Yield strength is calculated based on a given cross sectional surface area. That is the only way to compare relative strengths of materials.

Re:Stronger than Steel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43037767)

Which is why people use non-standard measures.

You are correct about that being the right way, but no vaporware car maker if going to do that.

In the mean time... (1)

djsmiley (752149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033429)

All the car manufacturers will take the technology they like and can use (printed bumpers for example) and leave the home grown printers to it, while laughing.

Re:In the mean time... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033447)

All the car manufacturers will take the technology they like and can use (printed bumpers for example) and leave the home grown printers to it, while laughing.

No they won't. It's cheaper to mold parts.

Re:In the mean time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033525)

agreed, its definitely cheaper to mold. benefits for prototyping are quite obvious though. i know the prototyping methods currently in use are extremely expensive, and making a mold domestically isnt exactly a cheap operation either. Molds are good if you want to make a ton of parts, but i can see a lot of concept car manufacturing done with processes similar to these.

Re:In the mean time... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43042585)

Rapid prototyping of parts that are designed to be molded was one of the first and still probably the most common use for 3D printed parts.

Re:In the mean time... (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033785)

It's cheaper to mold parts.

It's cheaper if you already have the moulding equipment (which is pretty heavy duty for parts this big) and are making runs big enough to recover the cost of making the moulds for each design.

Small scale manufacture, especially if geared towards individualised vehicles based around standardised chassis/engine/safetycell designs, will print them on site and on demand.

Re:In the mean time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034681)

Not sure for injection molding but you can rapid-prototype molds for stamp molding. They glue layers and layers of laser-cutted paper on top of each other which results in a mold useable for just a couple of cycles.

Re:In the mean time... (2)

sadr (88903) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034527)

However, you can't mold honeycombs, foams, or other objects with complex internal structures that might be more efficient.

Then it's just a question of comparing the costs of industrial printing a part vs. the other ways you can improve vehicle efficiency.

Re:In the mean time... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43042569)

You can't 3D print foams. There has to be a way for the unfixed matrix material to get out. But you're correct in that you can 3D print shapes that cannot be molded. But ultimately, 3D printing will not displace molding as a technology for making plastic parts, because once you get over a certain volume, the plastic parts are much cheaper. So those for which there is a large market -- more than a few hundred pieces of a particular design and not simple enough to machine, molding will always be the predominant technology.

Someone had to say it... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033437)

Would you download a car?

Re:Someone had to say it... (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038003)

Would you download a car?

Hell yes! Anyone got a link to download a .torrent of an Ariel Atom?

2,500 hours to print car? (4, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033459)

That's 104 days. I don't see the economics working out.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033545)

you'd think it would be probably possible to construct a printer that does it much faster.
multiple print heads and so forth.

100 days is too much.

printing allows for inside structures impossible with molding though.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (4, Interesting)

mothlos (832302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033555)

While I am skeptical about a lot of things in this project, this likely isn't as bad as one might think. This is the full serial time to build all of the components, which could be parallelized, meaning that in production they would only have to worry about the single component with the longest generation time. This is probably still quite a long time using this technique.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034213)

It can be parallelized, and I'm certain that printers optimized for the different parts would speed things up a bit, but getting the process up to 1 car per week would still require 15-20 printers instead of one. Somehow I see them switching to molded parts wherever practicable if they start production.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033761)

That's 104 days. I don't see the economics working out.

What is the time and cost to transport the final vehicle to Mars?

rep-rapture of the Gnurds (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034647)

That's 104 days. I don't see the economics working out.

What is the time and cost to transport the final vehicle to Mars?

what's the point? The man from Mars stopped eatin' cars. Now he only eats guitars.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034129)

If you print it in your own garage, who cares?

If you can team up with some friends and share the parts you print, it is even better.

Ofc it is not economical for a current car manufactory ... but it might be for home made cars.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (4, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | about a year and a half ago | (#43035287)

In 1995, it took hours to download a few MBs. I don't see the digital music business ever working out, let alone videos and movie streaming.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (2)

iroll (717924) | about a year and a half ago | (#43039137)

This just in: given unlimited resources, people can do simple things in impractical ways. Film at 11.

In 1995, it was impractical to download videos on demand. Being the first idiot to wait 104 days for a video to download doesn't make you a pioneer; it means you have the resources to waste doing something impractical.

These kind of demonstrations are different than actually doing something to develop the technology. We know what the state of the art is, and we see inklings of what could be done in the future. Generating trivial results doesn't do anything more to drive that point home.

Re:2,500 hours to print car? (1)

gutnor (872759) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036629)

Obviously 100+ days is not quite fast enough. But considering the technology is so new, that is not unreasonable we will get the production time down to 10 days by just refining the existing technique.

10 days seems long, but what matter is the footprint of the printer and its cost. If it is small and cheap enough you can basically spread and stack them all around the country. The efficiency of on-demand, on-site production will more than make up for the slowness of the process.

You wouldn't download a car, would you ? (4, Funny)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033497)

Yes, yes I would.

Re:You wouldn't download a car, would you ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033977)

Where's the .torrent?

Re:You wouldn't download a car, would you ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034375)

You wouldn't shit in a urinal.

Re:You wouldn't download a car, would you ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43035761)

Sometimes all the stalls are taken and you just can't wait!

The engine, chassis, and wheels aren't printed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033527)

"The engine, chassis, and wheels aren't printed, of course"

So, the bits that make it go. The bits that distinguish it as a car instead of being a small room with some uncomfortable chairs.

Anybody can stick a fucking wooden box on a car base and call it a car.

Cars are chosen based on looks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033749)

Most people don't choose cars based on the bits that make them go, because the bits that make them go can't been seen. Unless a buyer happens to be technically minded, they won't even have read the specs before buying.

Instead, cars are chosen based on their looks. In other words, the parts that can be 3D printed.

And when those parts can be changed from year to year by printing out new ones, or to repair damage, then the concept of printable bodywork using designs obtained from the Internet becomes quite appealing.

Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034227)

Most people don't choose cars based on the bits that make them go

Really? I've never bought a car that didn't have the "bits that make them go."

salesman: "Take a look at this one! It's beautiful, isn't it? Comfortable inside, too. Just exactly what you need! No engine or wheels, of course, but that's not important to most consumers."
customer: "I want it! I don't use those 'wheel' thingies anyway."

These guys aren't "printing a car". They're printing a shell. Without windshield or windows, either, electronics, or even the seats.

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034917)

Most people don't choose cars based on the bits that make them go

Really? I've never bought a car that didn't have the "bits that make them go."

I never thought I'd ever see one so skilled in the art of missing the point.

How much exactly do you care about the "bits that make it go" in your current car? Who manufactured the gearbox? Who manufactured the engine? What kind of timing belt does it use?

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43035339)

I think you missed the point. You did not say (in your original post) that people don't care about who manufactured the gearbox, you said 'people don't care about the bits that make it go, they buy for looks'. Which may be true in very few cases, but certainly not for 'most people'.

People may not care about the technical details of 'the bits that make it go', but they sure as hell care about how those details manifest themselves. Things like mileage, performance, handling, warranty, comfort, price, etc are all affected primarily by 'the bits that make it go', and in aggregate make up a larger portion of the purchase decision than the looks of the car. Looks may get you interested in the car, but looks are not the primary driver behind the purchase of a car in most cases.

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038569)

That's the first post I've made in the thread, and the gp was in reply to someone else.

While I take your point that people are swayed by performance and reliability, I'd still say that most people don't really care what actually powers the car.

Maybe you're right, though - in the US most people seem to choose cars powered by heavy, thirsty, underpowered V8s even though they are hopelessly outperformed by modern European diesels.

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43039475)

I apologize for thinking you were the original poster.

As for your snide comment about 'most people in the US...' - the top selling cars in 2012 in the US were Camry, Accord, Civic, Altima, Corolla, CR-V, Escape. Remind me which of those is a 'heavy, thirsty, underpowered V8'. For more recent data, in January there were 255772 midsize cars sold, 204118 small cars sold, 74336 luxury cars sold, and (this is your 'big v8' category, which according to you is what 'most people' buy) 239 large cars. So, I guess by your estimation, 0.04% is 'most'.

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#43040151)

Actually as the other reply to my previous post said, V8s are more common in large cars and trucks, which is a fair point.

But even then, why would you cripple a large vehicle with a wheezy old petrol engine?

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

karnal (22275) | about a year and a half ago | (#43039609)

If I had to look around on the road at the different cars around America, I'd say you're wrong. The only v8 engines that I know of in production cars are typically sport cars or luxury cars. Common family sedans here are i4 or v6 engines.

SUVs and Trucks? Another matter. But most of the affordable vehicles around in the SUV and Truck arena are switching to v6 and i4 configurations. It'll take time, but we're getting there.

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Smauler (915644) | about a year and a half ago | (#43035957)

I may be weird.... but I base my car buying purchases entirely on who made the bits that make it go. Honda made my car, engine, and chassis, and most of the other bits. I don't really care who made the timing belt.... Honda do, though.

If the company who "make" the car do not manufacture either the chassis or engine... you're just buying the package, rather than the car. Using bits from other manufacturers is acceptable, and good practice in some areas (brakes are rarely developed in house on any car with decent brakes, and it's often better to buy in gearboxes, for an example).

Re:Not a car if it doesn't go (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43035147)

> Most people don't choose cars based on the bits that make them go

Really? I've never bought a car that didn't have the "bits that make them go."

Nice clear straw man. You responded not to the point that the parent made ("choose cars based on the bits that make them go") but to your own words ("bought a car that didn't have the bits that make them go"), which you then proceeded to knock down.

Logic fail.

3D printed magnesium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033579)

Is there some obvious reason I am unaware of that you cannot 3D print with magnesium? I know the auto industry at large is trying to work magnesium into its vehicles for its great strength to weight, but is having trouble working with the material because it tends to have flex memory and the bends made to the material do not stay in place well enough for wide spread use. However, it seems to me that this same property makes it ideal for a 3D printed unibody frame on a sports car - light weight, strong, and returns to its preferred form after stress. All of these qualities would make an ideal frame, but I am assuming there must be some catch since I have not heard of anyone working on this. Perhaps it is just the cost of development or the material itself - if its too expensive, why wouldn't you just use carbon fiber after all?

Re:3D printed magnesium? (1)

Meyaht (2729603) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034297)

Magnesium dust is flammable. You have some dust when you print. Not a deal breaker, but a hurdle.

Re:3D printed magnesium? (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034569)

Magnesium dust is flammable. You have some dust when you print. Not a deal breaker, but a hurdle.

On top of this, Magnesium that's on fire is a gigantic PITA to put out is my understanding. Navy protocol at sea for something that's made of it and on fire: dump it overboard.

Re:3D printed magnesium? (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036949)

Wouldn't the flammable nature of magnesium be a problem in case of a car crash ?

Stability? (1, Offtopic)

systemidx (2708649) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033603)

Why is the one wheel at the front? What's going to happen when this thing goes around a turn? All I can see is a very expensive reliant robin.

Re:Stability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43033815)

I know it isn't traditional to do so, but you did read the articles and look at the pictures, right?

Re:Stability? (1)

systemidx (2708649) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034363)

I know it isn't traditional to do so, but you did read the articles and look at the pictures, right?

You mean did I read the article with TWO pictures (neither of them are good) and the body of text that just had a bunch of "we want it to do x" in it?

Yeah, I read it. Didn't find it terribly informative.

Good for Prototyping (1)

DollyTheSheep (576243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033789)

A 3D printer is certainly good for prototyping. For actually production? Not so much.

Re:Good for Prototyping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034141)

Tell that to NASA. [gizmag.com]

Re:Good for Prototyping (1)

Creepy (93888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034723)

NASA's needs tend to be similar to the prototyping variety because they don't need to print thousands of similar parts. From the article, though, it is cool - that valve nozzle thing they show would probably be a dozen molded parts with screw fittings or welds. The problem, at least at present, is that 3D printing of any kind isn't fast enough for production, but speed is improving, as are materials available for 3D printing (no longer just those plastic/adhesive pellets like the guys down the hall from me use, though they've probably moved on - I don't get to see the "in development" tech, just the "in use" results they put in the hallway).

Failure to learn from history (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033825)

Covering the front wheels like that is a bad move, SAAB taught the world that long ago. They had to flare out the wheel arches to deal with it when they built the Ursaab prototype.

Snow will build up between the wheels and the body, the driver will not notice this until he tries to turn and the car continues in a straight line.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursaab [wikipedia.org]

Re:Failure to learn from history (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43035411)

Good catch. That's scary as hell! I could be driving along a long stretch of interstate for several hours only later to find out I can only make a few degrees turn? Assuming that snow compacts into a ice, that's a very big problem. Deadly in fact. Aside from suspension, that's another good reason to have deep wheel wells above.

They Just Need Faster 3D Printers (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033835)

FDM is slow compared to new SLA, micro-nozzle and inkjet deposition processes. I'm not sure what FDM printer tech from the 80's they are currently using, but by using newer additive manufacturing techniques and new materials they can cut their 2500 hour print time down to well under 250. Inkjet and SLA is capable of print rates in the Liters per Hour and easily down to the 10's of microns of resolution. You just won't find these types of printers sold by the old 3D printer co's sitting on their old 80's tech that they are still trying to squeeze every last day out of their old patents.

I've been considering making a Twike clone (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year and a half ago | (#43033925)

w/ the CNC milling machine I've just gotten together ( http://www.shapeoko.com/ [shapeoko.com] ) and added a drive shaft upgrade to --- still need to finish documenting that on the wiki.

The Twike ( http://www.twike.com/ [twike.com] ) is essentially an enclosed electric three-wheeled cycle, I think I'll be able to bring it in a bit under the ~$20,000 it'd cost to import one.

Adding 3D printing functionality to the ShapeOko would certainly make the manufacture a bit more flexible.

William

Re:I've been considering making a Twike clone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43036965)

That is a small CNC router not a CNC milling machine. These are two completely separate classes of machines. Although there is some crossover in applications, generally they are used for different materials.

Tube frame, plastic body (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034157)

From TFA:
"The design puts a tubular metal cage around the driver, “like a NASCAR roll cage,” Kor claims."

So all the load bearing parts are metal. What we really have is a tube-frame car with a plastic body. Great job suckering Wired into providing free advertising.

Model cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034165)

I instantly have an image in my head of model cars I put together as a kid. All my car parts would arrive connected in a plastic lattice and I would have to pop the steering wheel out to put it in my car.

The cool guy with the convertible (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034325)

will soon be reclassified as the dumb schmuck who ran out of ink.

Re:The cool guy with the convertible (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43034689)

will soon be reclassified as the dumb schmuck who ran out of ink.

Hey, I LIKE my roadster... was that thunder?

Re:The cool guy with the convertible (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038681)

...even better!

I love driving top-down in the rain. The problem is those damn stop-lights!

Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034441)

It's easy to build a car if it doesn't have to meet the same performance or safety standards.

The bumpers will be as strong as their sheet metal equivalents?
What about all the understructure?
What about the other crash ratings? Do you think it will provide top level ratings to all the IIHS tests?

As far as 3D printing ABS, it would likely be cheaper to simply vacuum form ABS sheets then simply glue the appropriate mating fasteners on. Once you get past a reasonable volume it will be substanitally cheaper.
What is an hour of 3D printer time worth? over 2500 hours, thats over 3 months.

Steel bumpers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43034773)

From TFA:
"No matter what, the bumpers will be just as strong as their sheet-metal equivalents"

When was the last time you saw a steel bumper on a car?

Mr Bean Anyone? (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036253)

I just hope that it's stable. Just look at what Mr. Bean does to the 3 wheeled car all the time. http://youtu.be/Gb54PRcekIY [youtu.be]

Fire ratings (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43036973)

I have to wonder if there are burn rate / toxicity requirements for passenger cars, such as for aircraft. That could put a fiery wrench into the works.

economics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43037581)

2500 hours is a long time to build a coffin

Dymaxion Mini (1)

Schrockwell (867776) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038011)

The design for this car appears to be inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car [wikipedia.org] . It features a similar aerodynamic "teardrop" shape and the same three-wheel design, although his was much bigger (and more fuel-efficient than most of today's cars). I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned anywhere in the article. There is a great video [youtube.com] of the car doing laps around a traffic guard. Bucky was in the Navy and was fond of sailing, and he said that having the single wheel in the back made it feel more like you were turning a rudder on a ship than steering a car.
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