urbee promo.jpg

URBEE render (via URBEE.net)


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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