By on October 30, 2017

fine-comfort-ride-wheel

Airless tires are one of those things that crop up every few years, but they never seem to stick around long enough to become commonplace. Already, certain construction vehicles use flat-proof rubber, and tire manufacturers have been playing with airless systems for some time. For example, Hankook has the iFlex, its fifth attempt at non-pneumatic tires, and Goodyear has actually begun selling airless donuts on commercial lawnmowers. Michelin even has a 3D-printed round that it claims will last the lifetime of a vehicle.

Unfortunately, nobody seems able to come up with a solution that works at higher speeds. While they’re great at taking impacts, the existing designs aren’t so good at coping with high levels of heat. But it’s not for a lack of trying — there may even be a breakthrough just around the bend, especially since everyone seems so interested. Rolling resistance and weight are two of the electric car’s worst enemies. If an automaker could mitigate those issues effectively, that would be another leg up on the competition.

It’s an issue weighing heavy on the top minds at Toyota at the moment. The company’s recent concept EV, the Fine-Comfort Ride, came equipped with a set of experimental airless tires from Sumitomo Rubber Industries, boringly named the Smart Tyre Concept-A. Toyota’s theory is that non-pneumatic tires, consisting of a solid band of rubber encircling lightweight alloys, could eventually compensate for the weight of wheel-mounted electric motors.  (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2017

Ford 3D Printed Parts, [Image: Ford Motor Company]

Ford is trying its hand at a new way of manufacturing inexpensive and lightweight car parts: 3D printing.

While 3D printing has existed in the auto manufacturing scene for quite some time, it was largely used for prototypes and molds, not the actual product.

Ford is now looking to use the technology to produce a variety of customizable and low-volume parts.

(Read More…)

By on August 6, 2015

3d-printed Aston Martin

Ivan Sentch, the New Zealander who is 3D printing an Aston Martin DB4 and building the car in his garage, is back at it after a two-year hiatus, he told us today.

In an email, Sentch said he’s moved into a new house and is bringing the car back into the garage where he’ll pick at the project, bit by bit, until he’s done.

“It’ll just be a couple of hours at night after the kids go to sleep but you’d be surprised how much you can get done doing just a little bit each day,” said Sentch.

Kinda puts our Facebook meandering before bed to shame, really.  (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2013

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…)

By on August 1, 2013

aston body

A few weeks ago, we ran a post about a new computer driven tool developed by Ford that allows them to rapidly prototype sheet metal parts. At the time, I raised the potential that Ford’s Freeform Fabrication Technology might have for enthusiasts working on customizing or restoring cars. Load a sheet of metal in the frame, load a file on the computer, and watch it hammer out a fender for your classic or custom car. Apparently that wasn’t much of a stretch. Engadget reports on a New Zealand man named Ivan Sentch who is using an $800 desktop 3D printer to fabricate the body for a 1961 Series I Aston Martin DB4 replica he is making. (Read More…)

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