Urbee is the name of world’s first 3D-printed hybrid car, designed by mechanical engineer Jim Kor, who spent his last 15 years building it. Kor recently unveiled a fully functional prototype at the TEDx conference in Winnipeg, Canada.
The body is entirely made of polymers shaped by a 3D printer, part by part, layer by layer. However, they only used this printing method with the body panels, while the rest have been made the classical way.
Urbee’s ethanol engine can only output 8 horsepower, but due to its aerodynamic, water drop-like shape, it’s able to reach 70 mph without any hassle and still do 200 mpg on the highway and 100 mpg of in-city driving. Kon also says it’s designed to last for 30 years.
If you’ve never seen a 3D printer in action you can watch this video and see how powerful these things can get. You can actually build entire objects with moving parts out of a very strong polymer.
I don’t know the method Kon employed for printing his Urbee, but this may be an idea for building future cars, since 3D printing involves way less energy and materials than regular part manufacturing. Theoretically, anyone with a printer like that could build anything imaginable.
“This process could revolutionize how we make things. It has certainly changed my way of thinking about manufacturing,” Kor admitted for the BBC.
Kor and his team are now trying to gather $1 million for building a second, improved prototype that they want to commercialize starting 2014 for $10,000.