A partnership between 3-D-printing pioneer Stratasys Ltd. and design startup Kor EcoLogic aims to produce the world's first road-ready 3-D-printed car.
RedEye On Demand, a Stratasys business unit that provides rapid-prototyping and direct digital-manufacturing services, said the two firms aim to have the vehicle — the Urbee 2 — on the road in two years.
They plan to build on the success of the Urbee 1 ("Urbee" stands for "urban electric"), a concept vehicle that Stratasys/RedEye and Kor EcoLogic produced in 2011 using 3-D printing.
The Urbee 1 "proved that 3-D printing could in fact produce large, strong parts that meet accurate specifications of a car body," RedEye On Demand said in a news release.
"Urbee 2 will take the basic concepts of Urbee 1 to a higher level, including features like a fully functioning heater, windshield wipers and mirrors," the company added.
Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Kor EcoLogic — headed by mechanical engineer and consultant Jim Kor — will fully design the Urbee 2 in CAD files, sending them to RedEye On Demand for production through Stratasys's fused-deposition modeling process.
The process applies thermoplastics in layers from the bottom up, yielding parts that are durable, precise and repeatable, according to the firms.
They said production of the Urbee 2 will require only 40 parts.
'Anything Really Is Possible'
When finished, the two-passenger vehicle will be able to travel at speeds up to 70 mph, powered by 100 percent ethanol or a similar biofuel, the firms said.
Their ultimate goal: driving the Urbee 2 from San Francisco to New York City on 10 gallons of fuel, setting a new world record.
"A future where 3-D printers build cars may not be far off after all," said Jim Bartel, Stratasys vice president of RedEye On Demand.
"Jim Kor and his team at Kor EcoLogic had a vision for a more fuel-efficient car that would change how the world approaches manufacturing and today we're achieving it. Urbee 2 shows the manufacturing world that anything really is possible. There are few design challenges additive-manufacturing capabilities can't solve."
Kor, who has led both Urbee projects, said the Urbee 1 showed him that "product design is nearly unencumbered by considerations on how parts can be made with digital manufacturing."
"That liberation is incredibly powerful and holds a lot of potential for the future of manufacturing," Kor said.