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How 3D Printing is Shaping the Auto World

3D printing technology has made quite an impression in the automotive industry. Starting with car parts and accessories to life-sized concept cars, the possibilities of 3D printing knows no bounds. As the technology develops at a faster pace than ever, the automotive companies have started taking rapid prototyping into their consideration. They are analyzing the possibilities of 3D printing.

However, recently car manufacturers have taken the idea of using 3D printers for rapid prototyping a notch further. Ford has disclosed that it is going to open a 3D digital shop, by the name Ford 3D Store. Ford fans now will get the chance to make their own models or they can decide to purchase a 3D digital file from the Ford Vehicle library that has about 1000 Ford Vehicles in it.

Though Ford is yet to make entire cars out of 3D printers and allow people to print replacement parts, their recent approach of employing 3D printing will certainly interest a lot of people. Available models include the Ford GT, Shelby GT350R, along with plenty other models. Though the plastic models printed at 1:32 scale costs about $39. The people who own a 3D printer or have access to one can buy the 3D design files for only $4.99. This will allow them to print the cars to whatever size they desire.

Other than Ford, Honda has recently taken up a similar initiative to allow its fans the pleasure of owning a 3D printed model that they can directly buy or print out on their own. As of now, only very few Honda concept cars can be printed, although there are interesting models such as the Acura NSX to be added along with others very soon. Although according to Honda it is just a fun move, we are left to wonder about the time when we can print replacement parts of cars.

The materials available for printing today are more applicable for making a phone cover or a toy gun. It might not be able to handle the rough terrain and the weather a car needs to face. However, it doesn’t mean no one has thought about a life-size, fully functional 3D printed car. Take a look at the teardrop shaped Urbee-2.

These days an entire car be printed using 3D printers in about 44 hours. It may sound outrageous now, but there might come a time when you can just go online and build yourself a car from scratch. The car will get printed according to your personal specifications and will be shipped to your door in just about two days. As ridiculous as it may sound, this is what the auto industry is envisioning. Through the passage of time, the technology used in making cars is bound to change and we can only hope that it takes a turn for the best. Here are a few ways in which the auto industry might change radically.

Eco-friendly

Recyclable materials with a low rate of fuel emission are used by the automotive industries to build 3D cars. There are no cars on the street that have a lower carbon emission than a 3D printed car. One more amazing fact is that, in contrast to the use of electricity in the traditional process, the fabrication process of 3D printers only requires a small electricity. These days the automotive industries are using 3D printing technologies to make prototypes of sophisticated car models.

Local Production

Though the 3D printing technology is evolving very fast, it is yet to become a threat to mass manufacturing in the near future. When 3D printing finally reaches the houses of the common man, it will encourage production in people’s homes. These days, cars are only manufactured by a select number of companies. But when the revolution of these exotic printers gets more profound, we might get to see the production of cars in every metropolitan area.

Creativity

Additive manufacturing allows the production of personalized goods. This might allow people to show their individuality in everything, starting from their clothes to their cars. This will open doors of possibilities for professionals and amateurs all the same. It will encourage people to think differently and to follow their dreams. No doubt there will be an increasing number of artists, designers, and engineers. And even by looking at the cars that are zooming in the roads, we will be able to notice the creative genius present there. A certain mark of creative genius that an individual might introduce in his car might stand out so very much that it might become a standard feature of all cars. If you’re still having difficulties imagining the future of 3D printing, try thinking of Leonardo da Vinci with an iPad and a 3D printer. Think about the possibilities.

An example of creativity, micro-production and eco-friendliness

The Urbee 2 by Local Motors is a small scale demonstration of the automotive industries after 3D printing went mainstream. This teardrop shaped car has all the goodness of the 3D printing era. It comes with the tagline-‘The greenest car in the world’. The specialty of the car is that it is very efficient and lightweight and also the price is very reasonable too. Its interiors are made out of plastic parts printed by a 3D printer while the engine and chassis are made out of metal.

Although the engineers of the car expect the car’s speed to be under 40mph when the electric motor is used, it can go a lot faster when the engine uses ethanol. In contrast to a traditional fuel-guzzling car, the Urbee 2 takes only 44 hours to come into being, i.e. to get printed. The material used in the printer is a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic.

If this Local Motor car sees mass production, then the time when the world becomes full of micro-industries and large numbers of printed cars that are designed individually, might become a reality, though not in the near future.

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