The Truth About Cars » prototype The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » prototype Successful 3D Printed Metal Gun Has Implications for Automotive Prototypers, Restorers & Customizers Fri, 08 Nov 2013 14:00:10 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

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.

Civil libertarians and Second Amendment activists have debated the use of 3D printing to challenge gun control laws, but until now, nobody’s 3D printed a fully functioning gun that’s been able to withstand repeated firings. So what’s this post doing here at TTAC and not at the site founder’s site devoted to firearms? Besides the legal implications for gun control, the process could be a boon to automotive engineers trying out prototype parts as well as to restorers trying to reproduce hard-to-find parts and to customizers trying to make parts that have never before been made. Because it can “print” voids within solid objects, and build up components from the inside out, so to speak, 3D printing can make parts that can not be made by conventional machining or casting.


“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”

Solid Concept says that the metal laser sintering process is more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and small tolerance parts needed to assemble a functioning 1911 series gun. That design was chosen because it is in the public domain. They say that 3D printed metal parts have less porosity than investment cast parts and better “complexities” than components machined from billet. The barrel ably withstands 20,000 psi of pressure when the gun is fired.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The company chose to make a gun, no doubt because it will generate considerable interest outside the 3D printing community, but also because the engineering needs of firearms manufacture are a rigorous demonstration of 3D metal printing capabilities.

“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,” says Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that 3D Printing isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”

We ran a post not long ago about a process that Ford developed that allows them to make complex sheet metal parts directly from CAD drawings. At the time I said that opens a world of possibilities for car fabricators, restorers and customizers. Now that Solid Concepts has apparently proven that you can 3D print metal hard parts, as long as you have a part’s dimensions, you can reproduce it. It no longer maters if the part is in production or not. Even if you don’t have the original blueprints or a CAD drawing, as long as you have a sample part (and the video below with Jay Leno shows that you can even used cobbled together broken parts) you can use something like NextEngine’s 3D scanner to create a digital model of the part.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Listen To The Sound Of Porsche’s Four-Cylinder Future Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:28:59 +0000

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?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: How Not To Set A ‘Ring Record Edition Mon, 11 Jul 2011 16:46:08 +0000

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.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail dreier-ring2 dreier-ring1 Ruh-roh! (Courtesy: Auto Motor und Sport/ SBMedien) dreier-ring3 ]]> 9
Let’s Do it Again: Toyota and Tesla Build RAV4 EV Sat, 17 Jul 2010 11:02:58 +0000

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.”

No more is known or will be divulged, except that “Tesla seeks to learn and benefit from Toyota’s engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise, while Toyota aims to learn from Tesla’s EV technology, daring spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility.” Toyota had plans to introduce EVs into the market by 2012, and by using what T&T have, that goal most likely can be reached quicker and for less money than by starting from scratch.

This is not the first electric RAV4 to be built. Toyota built the first RAV4 EV in 1997.  By 2003, Toyota had sold or leased 328 RAV4 EVs. Then, the vehicle was discontinued. In a press release issued for that occasion, Toyota said “ that in order to have a positive environmental impact, a large number of consumers must embrace the technology. In order for this to happen, the vehicle must meet the lifestyle needs of, and be affordable to, the mass market.”  At the time, Toyota had problems with range and useful life of the battery. When the old RAV4 EV was scrapped, Toyota said that “the cost to replace the battery is more than the value of the vehicle.” Hopefully, some of this has changed by now.

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Finally: Toyota And Tesla Make Something With Wheels Sat, 12 Jun 2010 16:53:49 +0000

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.

Toyota told The Nikkei [sub] that they will build an EV prototype together with Tesla. The mule should be ready this year. And it won’t be anything fancy. The prototype will be based on a current Toyota model and use Tesla’s lithium-ion-battery-based system. If it works, the winner will be Toyota: By using Tesla’s technologies, Toyota could lower the cost of its future electric vehicles, a Toyota executive said to the Nikkei.

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Quote Of The Day: The Politics Of Limitless Speed Edition Tue, 27 Apr 2010 21:45:15 +0000

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.

Minister Ramsauer’s full quote in Autobild goes something like this:

We must wait for the results of the investigation. Test drivers are professionals. They should not behave themselves like Rambo, rather their driving must serve as an example to the rest of traffic. The German streets are not the Nürburgring

Of course, don’t expect the good Minister to actually change the speed limit laws. After all, the German automakers have long enjoyed an advantage over their competitors thanks to Germany’s autobahn system. If only in the PR and marketing departments. But then, why wouldn’t the phrase “autobahn tuned” come up in the vast majority of Mercedes ML sales?

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Volt Birth Watch 172: 3rd Generation Sustainability? Fri, 20 Nov 2009 16:55:31 +0000 (

“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.

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