Students at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have built the island republic's first 3D-printed concept car.
The NTU Venture 8 (NV8) is built on a carbon fiber single-shell chassis. Its 150 3D parts were made out of lightweight plastic that were created on printers at the university, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.
The vehicle has a honeycomb structure and is partially powered by solar cells designed to flow with the shape of the chassis. It is an ‘urban concept’ car that can hit 60 kph.
While it is not possible to physically 3D print an entire car, including electronics, tires and everything else, 3D printed accessories for the passenger cabin, in metal as well as plastic, is expected to be the first practical uses of 3D printing in automobiles, trucks and other vehicles.
The NV8 weighs 120 kg. Compare that to the 2012 Mini Cooper hatchback, which tips the scales at 1,150 kg. That could be a problem. Due to its light weight, the NV8 would not only be unsafe on the roads, but would also be able to carry only relatively light passengers.
Research into creating safe, lightweight cars is ongoing. A European consortium is looking at using graphene-based materials to enhance both vehicle and occupant safety while remaining very light.
The NV8 is by no means the first concept vehicle whose body was made using 3D printers.
Local Motors, a US firm, rolled out a 3D-printed car at CES 2015 exhibition which can be ordered from the company’s website and is powered by electricity. The chassis, frame, exterior body and some interior features are 3D printed, according to the company. The mechanical components such as the battery, motors, wiring and suspension are sourced from the Renault Twizy.
Local Motors hopes to offer its vehicle in the U.S. sometime in 2015, after clearing government rules and regulations for vehicles.