All of us have used a printer for something, and probably recently, but there’s one thing that most of us would never expect to see coming out of a printer – a new car.
Naturally, we’re not talking about your ordinary home office printer, but a 3-D printer that uses layers of plastic polymers to create basically anything you can design. The technology of 3-D printing has been with for a little while now, but the potential applications are only starting to be explored. One of those explorers is a man named Jim Kor, whose team is working on the development of a car that could be affordable, lightweight, and extremely aerodynamic and economical. Dubbed the “Urbee 2”, it would use an all-plastic design for the body that will be half the weight of steel, giving the finished product a curb weight not far over 1,000 lbs.
Lest we worry about the safety of such a vehicle, Kor says his aim is to meet or surpass all current safety standards with the help of a metal chassis and a tubular metal cage around the driver, like something that would be found in a racing environment. Computerized crash simulation has been an integral part of the design process.
If all the stars align for Kor and his team, they and the Urbee could be part of a revolution in auto manufacturing – or indeed, manufacturing in general. Only time will tell whether or not the car will ever be seen in showrooms, but the implications of something like this are fascinating.