WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
It’s only a matter of time before we can 3D print an entire car, no matter how complex it is, in one run complete with embedded electronics, power, and sensors.
One day all cars will be 3D printed and designed and evolved by creative machines and Artificial Intelligence (AI), in much the same way these robots and other products have been. And that revolution is already underway – even if it has a long road to run until it’s fully played out. Today General Motors are using AI’s to design their next generations of vehicles, and a couple of years ago the first 3D printed bus emerged. But, as technologies and trends evolve, and as innovations accelerate, soon we could see the day where rather than just 3D printing individual car parts or chassis, cars will be printed complete with all their electronics and battery systems embedded, all in one run. And that day is drawing closer thanks to the arrival of multi-material 3D printers that enable just that.
For now though, while we wait for technologies and processes to mature Germany’s BigRep has unveiled one of the world’s first 3D printed self-driving sports cars that’s made up of just 14 3D printed parts and an electric powertrain and self-driving tech.
Watch the promo video. Courtesy BigRep.
Named Loci, the curvy four wheeler measures 85 by 146 by 285 cm and is put together from 14 unique components printed using the company’s BigRep Pro, Studio G2 and One 3D printing machines.
The body, meanwhile, is 3D printed using the company’s own Pro HT material, BigRep’s PLX material is used for the bumpers, the beams and joints are created using Nylon 6 (PA6/66), and the tires from thermoplastic polyurethane. There’s no information at all on the electric drivetrain or the autonomous tech installed, but BigRep does mention a touchscreen media hub, surround sound audio, wireless smartphone charging and LED lighting.
The Loci prototype currently comes in three distinct flavors. The Berlin model is envisioned as a single-seater campus commuter, and features TPU airless tires and components embedded with NFC chips that can be scanned using a mobile phone to help with identification, but that could include sensors to track the status of each part in the future.
Urban commuters are the target for the San Francisco variant, which features a narrow body, two passenger seats and a single door to the right that lifts up to provide cover for passengers exiting in the rain. The Dubai concept provides luxury airport transport and sports solar panels, luggage space and desert-ready rugged tires.
At the moment, you can think of Loci as a design study for a “possible future production platform.” BigRep says that the flexibility of the 3D printing production process allows for limited runs to be churned out with quick turnaround times, and the basic design can be modified to suit local needs.