large format 3d printing for luxury cars

for those with more money than sense, a 3D-printed car

Some companies are looking closely to large scale 3D printing as an opportunity for consumer based democratization. Giving people the opportunity to call the shots about how they want their next car to look both inside and out is a powerful motivator among consumers who find the idea of making their car their own appealing.


There are new businesses that are taking this idea to heart like the car startup Hackrod whose goal is to be able to invite anyone who is interested to design their next vehicle by personally using the latest tech around, which may end up including, but is not limited to,  virtual reality, generative design software and even artificial intelligence that can streamline the whole process significantly. For many aspiring companies that are trying to gear 3D printing of large parts towards providing aesthetic liberties to the public at large it’s still early days. However, it may be one of the newest and most successful types of models to emerge in the foreseeable future. To take the idea of by the people for the people, a real Volkswagen is sure to gain steam.


As a matter of fact, it has gotten to where it is today thanks to a well run and successful crowdfunding campaign. Now, it is looking to partner up with major companies that will make it a viable reality. One of the most recent supporters is Siemens which is helping Hackrod develop their proof of concept car, a speedster that’s playfully entitled, La Bandita. The hope with this partnership is to use Siemens’ PLM software in order to streamline the design process as much as possible so as to turn it into a responsive and rapid process that frees consumers from the hassle of getting too bogged down in computerized complexities. Complexities that in the background would be making up the programming that makes all of this a futuristic reality.


Dr. Slade Gardner, Hackrod CTO envisions achieving a number of advancements through the Siemens partnership including, but surely not limited to, “optimized aesthetic design, robust validated design, complex advanced manufacturing and rapid in-situ quality assessment.” Thereby ensuring that consumers may confidently pursue what they want without having to concern themselves about any hiccups along the way. It’s a lot to have locked down before it is open to the public. The idea is to put together a car with virtual reality, engineer it with responsive artificial intelligence and finally to 3D print it to a T.


One major step towards getting the general public involved with large scale 3D printing is through the exterior panels. While relatively large this is the most expressive part of the car and therefore is of great interest to those who would like their individuality to be clearly on display while on the road.


This is what the oldest car manufacturer in all of Japan is doing. The company called Daihatsu is launching what they are calling Effect Skins for their Copen car which you can adjust and tweak in variety of ways. They´re printed with major automotive 3D player Stratasys, the company that mounted the first car, which is to say the bodywork and windows, utilizing through additive manufacturing tech, the Urbee. And the best part is that drivers can swap out their carefully made designs whenever the mood strikes them. It just takes two weeks to design it and mount it on top of your your car. This is because the material that’s used to make the Effect Skin is acrylonitrile styrene acrylate(ASA) thermoplastic, which is both durable and provides UV protection.


Major car companies that are embracing 3D facilitated customization aren’t too numerous at present as with the implementation of most technology, it’s pretty risky and costly to bring to market. You just don´t know how people are going to feel about it. Ford, for example, has been making big strides in prototyping but are very skeptical about consumers´willingness to pay that extra.


At the same time, companies that have invested in this potentiality in big ways and are poised to become major players. In a prime example, you can’t talk about the implementation of large part 3D printing without mentioning BMW who were way ahead of the game and particularly saw the potential for this sort of technological innovation  to prototype and in this way try out many different ideas from bumper to bumper and actually put them to the test. They were able to produce at an unprecedented rate. This major car company is testing out these waters through their MINI Yours Customized service wherein customers get the opportunity to 3D printed options to make your next car your own by upgrading different parts with the help of an online customizer. Said tool features a variety of options that include surface finish, color, patterns, logo applications and things of the like. Once you have your part just the way you want it, the order is placed with a production facility in Germany to actually construct the part using processes such as laser lettering, 3D printing and others.customization, interdisciplinary training for development engineers.


Their Additive Manufacturing Centre in Munich each year develops and manufactures well over 100,000 specially designed components and have their sights set on the personalization of vehicle parts. Plans are for this type of construction to increase as the BMW Group has announces that they looking to invest more than 10 million euros in a brand new campus with over 6,000 square meters to use in Oberschleissheim, near the city of Munich. Its being described as the ultimate, and most importantly completely centralized, 3D testing playground for new technologies in the early stages. everything from prototype construction to series production that will be achieved with 30 industrial systems for plastics and metal at their disposal, without the need for more limiting classic tools like injection moulds and press tools.


Rolls-Royce which is now owned by BMW uses up to 10,000 3D printed par for their latest Phantom lines , they’re not exactly amateurs. Today, 25 years after they began adopting additive manufacturing, or AM, in their Rapid Technologies Center, they use it all over the place, most recently to construct engines, exhaust systems, whole road-ready cars and replicas of their most vintage models. As such they view themselves as leaders in terms of industrial applications and prove it with new models like the BMW i, an electric plug-in car that was launched in 2011. Thanks to their bustling center they can prototype at an unprecedented rate of 25,000 prototype requests a year which speaks to its integration to the car development process as a whole.


The reason why they believe in this path with a certain degree of confidence is that for them it makes sense to invest in giving people the right to choose, however, ideally not just choose but actually develop a well thought out idea that they have had brewing in their mind, perhaps to accommodate their lifestyle and personally Nalgene needs. For about a century consumers may only do choice as far as picking out the specific model and certain features. Among these forward looking companies there’s a believe that people don’t necessarily want to drive the exact same car as thousands of other people on the road..


Common sense dictates that what the future of the automotive sector holds for us as individuals is something radically different than what we’re accustomed to today. Perhaps the flying car is still a ways off and a vision of what will take hold and actually work to makeup the market in the next century is to put it simply, pretty hazy. But where there is uncertainty, there’s opportunity.


The democratization by way of car customization makes sense for some companies that want to take input directly from the public. This feel quite obvious for some, but scary for the executive that´s simply eying the bottom line. The idea is to invest in consumers that are looking for opportunities to raise their status among strangers as well as friends and family. To say, through their preferences, that they are unique, expressive and socially conscious. Like how clothes work for us, particularly in instances such as those where we mark a special occasion or event.


Many car enthusiasts understand the importance that lightweight construction has on a vehicle, particularly one that you wish to race around in. The BMW i8 Roadster delivers to this end thanks to the lightweight construction of its top cover that was made possible by additive manufacturing which is additionally stronger because of the process.


Naturally they are also looking towards printing motorcycles and have recently unveiled a S1000RR chassis and swing arm that looks so organic that it looks like it belongs on the set of an Alien movie.


Bentley is working on the future of luxury behind the wheel and hopes to design a car that through large format 3D printing can be both lounge and automobile. Complete with two sofas that face each other and are separated by a coffee table that features a holographic butler it’s meant to rethink the way we get comfortable in this type of space.  Although it may not come out for a decade or two, it is very likely for new and flamboyant designs such as this to steadily gain steam, all thanks to the very simple fact that large format 3D printing saves time. On high end custom jobs they can easily save years on development as much as construction. Simply put, it’ll be easier to try things out and as a result, think outside the box. Traditionally, a lot has to happen before a new model is brought to a sales lot.

Keep reading: more articles about 3D scanning

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