Think hybrid cars are futuristic? How about a hybrid car that has literally been printed out? Stratasys and Kor Ecologic recently teamed to develop Urbee, the first car ever to have its entire body 3-D printed with additive manufacturing processes (by printing layers of material on top of each other until a finished product appears).
3-D printing has been used for manufacturing before. Boeing, for example, prints some airplane parts using the process. And a company called Bespoke Innovations is using 3-D printing to manufacture prosthetic limb casings. But Urbee is entirely 3-D printed—all exterior components were produced with Dimension 3D Printers and Fortus 3D Production Systems by Stratsys.
It's efficient, too. Urbee, which competed in the 2010 X-Prize Competition, gets up to 200 mpg on the highway and 100 mpg in city conditions using either gasoline or ethanol. No word on whether Urbee will go into mass production, but Stratasys is showing it off at this week's SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And this might just be the beginning of the 3-D printed car revolution, if Stratasys and Kor Ecologic have their way. "FDM lets us eliminate tooling, machining, and handwork, and it brings incredible efficiency when a design change is needed," Jim Kor, president and chief technology officer at Kor Ecologic explained in a press release. "If you can get to a pilot run without any tooling, you have advantages."