3D Printing: Would You Download a Car?
It seems completely feasible that consumers won’t necessarily have to go anywhere to purchase a car in the not-too-distant future. In fact, you might be able to do it from your home— in your pajamas—and have it custom built and delivered that same day.
Let’s back up a little bit. I’m sure most of our readers will remember this PSA produced by the Motion Picture Association in 2004.
Fewer will probably know about this humorous meme from Reddit circa 2009.
At the risk of being “that guy” who always has to explain the joke, it’s funny because obviously you can’t download a car. Yet.
As 3D printing is poised to redefine the manufacturing industry, some developers have been turning their attention away from small scale, novelty type uses of the technology— like making desk ornaments—and have begun thinking macro. Well in September, history was made when Local Motors unveiled the first ever 3D printed car by the name of Strati. Much more simply built than traditional cars, the Strati—which by the way is all electric—has a top speed of 40 miles per hour and can travel 120 miles on a single charge.
“[Fewer] than 50 parts are in this car,” Jay Rogers of Local Motors told WGN. “You could think of it like Ikea, mashed up with Build-A-Bear, mashed up with Formula One.”
The company’s sleek trendsetter is now getting some competition. Later this month, a team of students from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will be racing their 3D printed, mostly solar, electric car at Royal Dutch Shell’s Eco-marathon Asia. While at 150 components the NTU Venture 8 is significantly more complex than the Strati, the design still dramatically cuts down on the number of parts in your average car on the market.
"We are extremely proud to have designed and assembled a 3D-printed body shell for the [NTU Venture 8] electric car, which is Singapore’s first and probably Asia’s first 3D-printed concept car," Prof. Ng Heong Wah, associate professor from NTU, told Gizmag.
While 3D printed vehicles still undeniably have a long way to go, one thing is becoming evident: soon we will be able to download a car.
Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.