By on February 28, 2013

3D printing is all the rage, and it caused a huge uproar when people started making guns with 3D printers. It was just a matter of time for really lethal stuff to be 3D-printed in your nerd-neighbor’s basement: A car.

Wired has the story of Jim Korr and his Urbee, a car (well, a three-wheeler) that is made while a “printer sprays molten polymer to build the chassis layer by microscopic layer until it arrives at the complete object.”

That process takes, oh, about 2,500 hours. That’s close to a year  in man days, not a good cycle-time by automotive standards. In case you worry about the rigidity of printed ABS plastic: The engine and base chassis will be metal. The engine will have 10 bhp. Cost: Estimated at $50,000, could be more.

Call me when it’s ready. In the meantime, I will research the possibility of life-sized 3D printed girlfriends..

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16 Comments on “The 3D Printed Car Is Upon Us...”


  • avatar
    raph

    They all laughed at the guy with the 3D printed car until he figured out how to spray molten metal and carbon fiber!

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    This could help keep replacement parts costs down. I can imagine having a high tech scanner and using a saw to cut cross sections into the old part and piecing (sp?) it all back together in CAD and then printing it. Take that you colluding Keiretsus!

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Depending on the internal geometry, it may not be neccessary to section the existing part; just pick off the external coordinates with a stylus.

      While this builder is using the printed parts directly; a more feasible use is to use them to make a lost wax mold of the part, then mold it out of metal. It still would be expensive on a per-part basis; but when the alternative is nothing; it could be justified in some cases.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I use a 3D printer at work. The car project is an amusing novelty. But as people love to say about EVs, “it’s not ready for prime time”.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      While it might be awhile before you can go to kinkos and get a car printed, labs in Detroit (and elsewhere) are likely to keep theirs busy. Want a final check on your aerodynamics? Print out the envelope and send it to the wind tunnel. Need a part now? Print it in wax and cast in sand. Also expect that the molds for making plastic parts are going to be a lot easier to make and revise.

      You get a whole lot of benefits before even think about shipping printed goods.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    The concern over guns is amusing-there are a lot of folks with conventional machining equipment in their homes that can produce a far better gun than 3-D manufacturing currently can.

    The Urbee is an interesting project but gslippy is right, this has a long way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      “The concern over guns is amusing-there are a lot of folks with conventional machining equipment in their homes that can produce a far better gun than 3-D manufacturing currently can.”

      Shhh! Don’t let the soy latte and iPad crowd in on the 190-year old secret. If they ask about what a milling machine is for, just tell them it’s used to produce organic quinoa pasta, otherwise they’ll wet their pants and try to ban them.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Reading that article was depressing. They just take it for granted that we’re going to live in a police state that strips the population of the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights through unreasonable searches, seizures, and force.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      you need skill and some training to machine accurate parts with conventional milling equipment.
      the guy with the 3D printer just pushes the ‘download’ and ‘print’ buttons and the machine does the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      As I see it, the only tricky bit in making a gun is the barrel. If you have the skills and the machinery, the other bits are straight-forward.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    This is an interesting project, and I commend Mr. Korr on his efforts.

    That said,

    1. The car is hideous.
    2. Three wheeled cars are a bad idea.
    3. 3d printed replacement parts for existing cars is the more likely first step.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I bet the small model in his hands cost 15k from our experience with 3D printing.

  • avatar

    Love dolls, that’s all I’m saying.

  • avatar
    niky

    There are a number of ways you can print cars. One builder is using a 3D printer to make foam cross-sections that he glues together. It’s pretty wild.


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