While online hightech companies might seem to be on the money, investors are hungry for new advances in physical products. But developing them takes years, and lots of money. There is a lots of waste in the prototyping stage in terms of time, materials, and money.
Rapid prototyping using 3D printers can help form ideas into real products, some that work, or help developers understand design flaws in the physical prototype. 3D printing, using plastic “ink” is one way to create prototypes but most printers are small, and only big enough to print shapes as big as a softball.
Here’s a new electric car printed using a 3D printer! (It’s not the first apparently. Strati came out this summer as the world’s first and it is electric too!)
The Israeli 3D printing company Stratasys has developed a large 3D printer called the Objet1000 3D Production System and this one is big enough to 3D print a car. In this case the electric car of a German car developer called the StreetScooter.
The car was developed by the Production of Engineering of E-Mobility Components of Aachen University in Germany. Starting in 2010 researchers began developing an electric car that could rival conventional vehicles in performance and price.
The car’s prototype has now been printed to scale using the Stratasys printer. When produced the car will weigh 450kg – (about 1000lbs) excluding battery and will have a range of 80 miles with a top speed of 60 mph. A city car.
The German team printed up their prototype with all its exterior parts: the large front and back panels, door panels, bumper systems, side skirts, wheel arches, lamp masks, and a few interior components such as the retainer instrument board.
The printer used a tough Digital ABS material so the car could live up to a rigorous testing environment.
The Stratasys build tray, seen below, is the largest in the world at 39.3 x 31.4 x 19.5 inches in size.
All in all the StreetScooter has brought together more than 80 companies. It will be sold for under Euros 10,000.
An electric prototype car in less than a year!
“Being able to use it in the development of large and small parts for StreetScooter was exciting in itself, but the contribution the 3D printed parts made to the construction of the car was enormous. The ability to produce full-scale prototypes that perform like the final parts, accelerated testing and design verification, enabling us to bring to market a prototype electric car in just 12 months – something that is just unimaginable with traditional manufacturing,” says says Achim Kampker, Professor of Production Management in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Aachen University.
He adds: “These cars can be developed from scratch and ready in a matter of months, not years, as with traditional automotive production processes. The StreetScooter project has demonstrated to us how a whole new approach to car design and manufacturing is possible with 3D printing.”
Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS), headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, is a leading global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions.