Solid Concepts, a 3D Printing services company, has announced that it has successfully manufactured a functioning 3D printed metal gun. To produce the more than 30 parts needed to assemble a classic 1911 design, Solid Concepts used a 3D printing process that deposits powdered metals that are then sintered with a laser. The result is metal parts that are hard enough to withstand the stresses and high pressures found in a firearm. The gun is made from 33 17-4 stainless steel and Inconel 625 and has successfully fired 50 rounds. Even the carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip was 3D printed, using “selective laser sintering”. Solid Concepts says that the project proves the viability of 3D printing of metal parts for commercial applications. (Read More…)
For the first time since the days of the 912, Porsche will be selling cars with a boxer-four engine. This new engine will power everything from the forthcoming “Baby Boxster” to the next generation of Boxster and Cayman, likely differentiated by different states of turbocharged tune. Here, a mule of the next-gen Cayman (released in Europe next year), which is growing to accommodate the new entry-level model, shows off the sweet sound of its new turbocharged 2.5 liter four-banger, which is rumored to put out 365 HP in “S” trim. And by “sweet sounds” I mean, it sounds a lot nicer than the 2.5 liter boxer in my girlfriend’s Impreza… although some of our more discriminating readers might feel that it’s still not up to Porsche standards. What say you?
With a new generation of BMW 3-Series on the way, you expect to see plenty of photos of it testing on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife. What you don’t expect to see: photos of it being towed through the “Green Hell.” According to Auto Motor und Sport, this prototype’s breakdown on the ‘ring is “unusual at this stage of development,” but the German publication notes that the defect that caused it is unknown. They simply write that, in the midst of a test drive, the next-gen Dreier “ran out of breath.” Hopefully the boys at BMW will be able to suss out the problem before the new Dreier launches in Europe next year… nobody likes to see a car like the 3-Series making its way through the Nürburgring on a trailer.
Finally something tangible out of the Toyota/Tesla-hookup: Tesla and Toyota will build an electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover. According to a communiqué by Toyota, the two companies signed an agreement to that effect. The E-RAV4 is supposed to be available in the United States in 2012. So fast? Well, it’s as simple as combining the Toyota RAV4 model with a Tesla electric powertrain, says Toyota. The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing. Tesla will “produce and deliver a fleet of prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year.” (Read More…)
When Toyota announced their share purchase / NUMMI deal with Tesla, the greenies rejoiced, the skeptics said it’s just an elegant way to unload NUMMI. Toyota said they are mildly interested in Tesla, in a venture capital kind of way. As in: here is some money and a factory we no longer need. Would be great if something comes of it. Well, they will actually build a car together. Not the Model S as many thought. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s build a prototype first. (Read More…)
Deutsche Straßen sind nicht der Nürburgring.
But there I go, quoting German Minister of Transportation Peter Ramsauer out of context, and in the original. Herr Ramsauer’s rebuke comes on news of a late-night crash involving a future Mercedes ML Class prototype, that resulted in the death of a 26-year old man over the weekend. The crash took place on a stretch of non-speed-limited autobahn between Singen and Stuttgart, favored by Mercedes and Porsche for high-speed testing. Apparently the victim had been involved in a minor accident and was trying to exit his vehicle (stalled in the left lane, according to Der Spiegel) when the Mercedes test mule slammed into his car, killing him instantly. The 52-year old test driver is under investigation for negligent homicide.
“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation,” goes a famous line in the Great Law of the Iroquois, “even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” Though TTAC tests the thickness of GM’s skin on a daily basis, GM is ahead of the seven-generation game. The Detroit News reports that GM’s engineering staff are already working on the Volt’s third-generation hardware, although previous iterations are still being used to collect data. Meanwhile, the major challenge remain getting everything road-ready for a 2010 launch, a goal that will be reached… “barring any last minute problems.” “I did place a lot of faith in the battery companies, who said they could have them ready,” admits Bob Lutz. Oh, and there’s still one other major obstacle to overcome: the cost. Test vehicles cost “over $250,000″ per vehicle to build, and a major focus of the testing process has been reducing the build cost. And despite the earlier Volt-as-sports-sedan rhetoric, the top attained speed in testing is 107 mph, although engineers say it will likely be limited to 104 mph. Though that’s faster than most EV early-adopters will take their Volts anyway, it’s also only about 15 mph faster than the much-cheaper Nissan Leaf EV, a vehicle that the Volt will have to differentiate itself from considerably to earn its estimated $10k premium over the non-range-extended EV.