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The Urbee hybrid: the world’s first 3D printed car

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November 2, 2010

The Urbee's entire body was 3D printed (Image: Kor Logic)

The Urbee's entire body was 3D printed (Image: Kor Logic)

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In the early 20th century Henry Ford revolutionized automobile production with the introduction of the assembly line for the iconic Ford Model T. Now, almost a century later, a car has been produced using a process that could prove just as revolutionary – 3D printing. Code-named, Urbee, the streamlined vehicle is the first ever to have its entire body, including its glass panel prototypes, 3D printed with an additive manufacturing process.

Designed from the ground up with environmentally sustainable principles in mind, Urbee offers some pretty impressive fuel efficiency numbers. The electric/liquid fuel vehicle uses both electric and gas motors in a series/parallel hybrid setup that allows it to achieve more than 200 mpg (1.2L/100km)on the highway and 100 mpg (2.3L/100km) in city driving with either gasoline or ethanol. For combined city and highway use, the Urbee gets about 150 mpg (1.6L/100km) and costs just two cents per mile. It can be charged overnight from a standard home electrical outlet.

The Urbee's entire body was 3D printed (Image: Kor Logic)

Urbee is the result of a collaboration between Winnipeg engineering group, Kor Ecologic, which designed the vehicle, and Minneapolis maker of additive manufacturing machines, Stratasys, which is responsible for printing all the vehicle’s exterior components. Stratasys used fused deposition modeling (FDM), which creates plastic parts by applying real thermoplastics in layers from the bottom up and allows the elimination of tooling, machining and handiwork and allows improved efficiency when a design change is needed.

The Urbee competed in the 2010 Automotive X-Prize Competition and a full-scale Urbee prototype as well as a 1/6 scale finished model will be displayed for the first time in the U.S. at the SEMA automotive show in Las Vegas from November 2 to 5.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
9 Comments

this should have won the xprize instead of the piece of garbage car that did.

Facebook User
2nd November, 2010 @ 05:30 pm PDT

Any info on its crash test safety? Does it employ crumple zones, side impact bracing?

This process appears to be a great development, and I am seriously very interested to learn how they dealt with safety of occupants in various collision and rollover scenarios.

francis
2nd November, 2010 @ 05:47 pm PDT

"this should have won the xprize instead of the piece of garbage car that did."

...except for that minor detail that it didn't finish, or score in the final half-dozen. Real-world results count more in the real world than theories or opinions or "should haves."

The Edison team was NOT my favorite to win, but I do have to congratulate them for their win- they earned it.

William H Lanteigne
2nd November, 2010 @ 06:33 pm PDT

Having covered the X-Prize for alt.energy.mag I'd have to point out that there were 3 categories and while I did not care for the Edison2 the vehicle from the Carolinas way outperformed the Edisons.

The interesting thing also about this vehicle is that the designer very carefully controlled the reflections of the environment and hence the absolutely beautiful, clean look. This may be a 3 wheeled vehicle and hence the road dynamics would be dangerous.

This is the cleanest vehicle design that I have ever seen in my 71 years and would urge that efforts be made to continue it's development... It is similar and cleaner than the X-Tracer which also was a winner in the X-Prize achieving over 200MPGe.

Asking for crash tests is slightly out of order since it requires a major manufacturing company to perform such.

Again, bravo for such elegance!

Bill

Island Architect
3rd November, 2010 @ 06:23 am PDT

If 3D printable cars are possible in the future, just think of the possibilities. Car dealerships would be eliminated. Just go online to the manufacturers website, choose your car and download it to your home 3d printer which, of course, will need to be cleaned thoroughly after downloading your grocery list.

Seriously, crumple zones and other integrated features can be incorporated into a 3D printing process easier and less labor intensive than traditional manufacturing processes.

Bruce Williams
3rd November, 2010 @ 08:28 am PDT

It is a beautiful car. I the angle at the windshield is so gradual that I wonder if the index of refraction of the glass would affect visability. It might not yet be a practical road vehicle but the process used to build it is important.

Since mpg standards may be raised to about 60 in the next 10 years, it is important to lower the Cd, no matter the manufacturing process used.

Adrian Akau
3rd November, 2010 @ 03:17 pm PDT

It would be neat to see the printer that was used to create the body. :)

BigWarpGuy
3rd November, 2010 @ 04:49 pm PDT

How difficult would it be to take a couple of decent photographs of this automobile? And what is with the new trend of taking pictures in the dark? If I'm interested, then I would like to actually SEE the item. Forget the mood and attitude, show us an image that explains the object.

fleming
24th November, 2010 @ 02:11 pm PST

I've been designing three-wheelers since the late 1970's, and it's not true that three-wheelers are inherently unstable. A poorly designed four-wheeler is more forgiving - likely to more resistance to overturn - than a poorly designed three-wheeler (depending on the relative poorness of the comparitive designs). But a well-designed three-wheel vehicle will be one of the most responsive and nimble vehicles you've ever experienced (and resistant to overturn). One has to understand three-wheel vehicle dynamics, and most engineers have little or no experience with them.

RQR
14th March, 2011 @ 08:55 am PDT
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