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URBEE render (via


As the 3D printing world begins to take off, we have seen many different items created for the first time from a 3D printer. Those have included dresses, all types of art, a guitar, and even a gun. Now we can all check out the next big thing to come out of a 3D printer, Urbee. Urbee is an ultra-efficient car, born from the mind of Jim Kor. As a professional mechanical engineer with over 35 years of experience designing automotive, bus, rail, agricultural, and heavy mobile equipment, he is the senior designer and project leader of the Urbee project.


To create such an ultra-efficient car, the problem of weight was already taken care of by 3D printing. Less weight allows for a more fuel-efficient car and Urbee weighs in at only 1,200 pounds, about half the weight of the average small sedan car. In addition, the car has excellent aerodynamics. Due to the design and shape of the car, Urbee has a drag coefficient of only 0.15. For comparison, most modern automobiles have drag coefficients of 0.30-0.35 and SUVs typically are from 0.35-0.40. The team has also set out to make the vehicle as easy to understand, build, and fix as possible. Consequently, the team designed the car to have as few parts as possible. Kor stated, “The thesis we're following is to take small parts from a big car and make them single large pieces. By using one piece instead of many, the car loses weight and gets reduced rolling resistance.”


In addition, if you think its lack of steel would make it unsafe for the open roads, you would be wrong. Kor and his team have been designing the car to be as safe as any other traditional car on the market. “We want the car to pass the tech inspection required at Le Mans,” Kor stated. As for how the car would handle a hit, the team claims they will soon have a matrix design for the bumper ready that would be stronger than FDM. The bumpers along with shock absorbing printed parts, strategically placed between the bumper and chassis, may possibly exceed current vehicle safety standards.


So far, all the printing and building of the vehicle has been accomplished at Redeye, a business unit of Stratasys, using ABS plastic. The process of printing parts for the vehicle has been dubbed “lights out construction,” which got its name from the ideology that manufacturers can begin the printing process, then leave the room and turns the lights off while the printer finishes the job. When a final product is finished and ready for the road, Kor is hoping to drive across the United States on 10 gallons of gas. Next time we see Urbee, they may be embarking on a 2,906-mile trip across America.


Be sure to watch the bloopers after the credits in the following video...




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Image of Makerbot’s new Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner prototype at this year’s SXSW Interactive. The prototype consists of a model sitting atop a spinning platform equipped with a system of cameras and lasers. (via Gizmag)


Sci-Fi fans around the world, rejoice! The ability to scan physical objects and quickly reproduce them is finally on its way. Four years ago at the 2009 SXSW show, Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis took the stage to announce their very first 3D printer: the Cupcake CNC. This time, however, Bre took the opportunity after his opening remarks to unveil to the world the first prototype of a Desktop 3D Digitizer that is sure to be a hit in the 3D printing and maker communities soon.


With an incredible range of 3D printing products accounting for 21.6% of the market share, Makerbot has stood out as the global leader in the 3D printing community. Some of Makerbot’s market reach includes the Replicator 3D Printer series, the Makerbot store, the online Thingiverse community, MakerWare, and much more. This time ‘round, the Makerbot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner will serve as a worthy accomplice to the Replicator 2 that will be hitting the fast-growing 3D printing marketplace soon.


“The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is an innovative new way to take a physical object, scan it, and create a digital file – without any design, CAD software or 3D modeling experience at all – and then print the item again and again on a MakerBot Replicator 2 or MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer,” says Bre Pettis on their revolutionary new piece of hardware.


Makerbot’s Digitizer is intended to make the 3D printing process a heck of a lot easier, especially for those not too well versed in CAD software. Several online communities, including Makerbot’s own Thingiverse, have assisted the process by providing a database of drawings and models that can be customized to fit a maker’s needs. Unfortunately, there’s a possibility you might not find what you’re looking for. The Digitizer helps by giving way to a seamless scanning of objects that even unskilled makers can use to prototype, archive, replicate, and print their own designs.


As of now, the scanner is only a prototype - Makerbot will continue to spend some more time testing out the scanning and printing process. All we know is that the current device uses cameras and lasers to digitize a model sitting atop a spinning platform.


SXSW Interactive is just getting underway with Makerbot’s huge announcement, so there is sure to be more news on this front soon. Those interested can head on over to Makerbot’s website and sign up to receive updates on the Digitizer.




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