As the standard of living grows in countries like China and India, one of the first luxury items many individuals want to purchase is their own automobile. As more and more cars hit the road around the world, fuel consumption will increase drastically, potentially leading to fuel shortages. A couple billion cars could also propel negative environmental changes through the sheer volume of waste produced.
It seems fairly certain at this point that electric cars are part of the solution to this dilemma. The Urbee (Rapid Ready coverage) is a small, environmentally friendly vehicle being developed to address the fuel and environmental issues caused by traditional automobiles. It also happens to use additive manufacturing (AM), specifically ABS plastic, for its body. For the second iteration of the vehicle, the Urbee 2, KOR EcoLogic and GrabCAD have initiated an insignia design challenge open to anyone with a talent for design. Continue reading
In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.
I don’t usually like to report on unsubstantiated rumors, but this one has been making the rounds long enough I suspect it likely has some validity. Word on the street is that Apple is looking to get into the 3D printing game. If that’s true, I almost think they’ve missed the boat by not acquiring MakerBot when it was still up for grabs. Continue reading
I hear it all the time, and read it in comments. “3D printing is great, but it’ll never replace (insert traditional manufacturing process).” I’m pretty sure the same thing was said about automobiles and horses. The fact is that additive manufacturing (AM) is becoming more and more a regular part of production, and a number of companies, including GE Aviation, are finding ways to make the technology work for them.
One company that seems to have a big interest in AM is Ford. The company has enthusiastically embraced the power of digital design and rapid prototyping, using off-the-shelf 3D printers. Now it seems that Ford wants a system specifically designed and built to offer the most manufacturing potential for the automotive market. The company is calling the new system Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology, or F3T. It’s not AM, but it’s not business as usual either. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) provides the means for creative individuals to resurrect the past. In some cases it brings a face to ancient Egyptians while in others it helps bring life (of a sorts) to dinosaurs. While the pursuit of academic interests via AM is fascinating to study, occasionally it’s interesting to see the technology used for something a bit more fun.
Voxeljet and Green Propulsion have worked together to bring the classic Imperia GP Roadster back to the streets, using AM. Sporting a hybrid engine with 350 HP that can go from 0 to 100 km/h in four seconds, the new Roadster is a reimagining of a Belgium automobile brand that, according to Green Propulsion, developed a fuel-electric motor as early as 1907.
During a casual conversation at RAPID 2012 with several engineers and additive manufacturing (AM) professionals, it was generally agreed that one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of a more widespread acceptance of the technology among businesses was the newness factor. People get used to doing something in one way and, as long as that method continues to produce results, are often loathe to try anything different.
This sort of reluctance is one of the reasons why many new ideas come from students or recent graduates. Rather than just accepting the reasoning of, “This is how we’ve always done it,” someone with a fresh perspective is better capable of thinking outside the box. Students at the University of Bayreuth have proven this idea with their novel use of a sand mold. Continue reading