Radical Improvement like a 290 mpg car from 3D Printing Requires Radical Redesign

The Urbee 2 is a 3D printed car and it could revolutionize parts manufacturing while creating a cottage industry of small-batch automakers intent on challenging the status quo.

Precise Control to Enable Lighter and Stronger Construction

Making the car body via FDM [3D Printed ABS plastic via Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)] affords precise control that would be impossible with sheet metal. When he builds the aforementioned bumper, the printer can add thickness and rigidity to specific sections. When applied to the right spots, this makes for a fender that’s as resilient as the one on your Prius, but much lighter. That translates to less weight to push, and a lighter car means more miles per gallon. And the current model has a curb weight of just 1,200 pounds.

Radically fewer Parts for more Strength and Simplicity

To further remedy the issues caused by modern car-construction techniques, Kor used the design freedom of 3-D printing to combine a typical car’s multitude of parts into simple unibody shapes. For example, when he prints the car’s dashboard, he’ll make it with the ducts already attached without the need for joints and connecting parts. What would be dozens of pieces of plastic and metal end up being one piece of 3-D printed plastic.

More Aerodynamic Designs are Enabled

“The thesis we’re following is to take small parts from a big car and make them single large pieces,” Kor says. By using one piece instead of many, the car loses weight and gets reduced rolling resistance, and with fewer spaces between parts, the Urbee ends up being exceptionally aerodynamic.” How aerodynamic? The Urbee 2′s teardrop shape gives it just a 0.15 coefficient of drag.

Not all of the Urbee is printed plastic — the engine and base chassis will be metal, naturally. They’re still figuring out exactly who will make the hybrid engine, but the prototype will produce a maximum of 10 horsepower. Most of the driving – from zero to 40 mph – will be done by the 36-volt electric motor. When it gets up to highway speeds, the engine will tap the fuel tank to power a diesel engine.

Safe Enough for Formula 1 or NASCAR

But how safe is a 50-piece plastic body on a highway?

“We’re calling it race car safety,” Kor says. “We want the car to pass the tech inspection required at Le Mans.”

The design puts a tubular metal cage around the driver, “like a NASCAR roll cage,” Kor claims. And he also mentioned the possibility of printed shock-absorbing parts between the printed exterior and the chassis. Going by Le Mans standards also means turn signals, high-beam headlights, and all the little details that make a production car.

$50,000 cost for Prototype

Kor already has 14 orders, mostly from people who worked on the design with him. The original Urbee prototype was estimated to cost around $50,000.

290 mpg

Will be able to drive the latest prototype from San Francisco to New York on 10 gallons of gas, preferably pure ethanol

SOURCE – Wired

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