We all dream of a time when a minimal human footprint can be left on the environment, and when driving a vehicle does not take a toll on the vast array of habitats that we all live among. We also can envision a time when the continent of Africa is at the forefront of sustainable energy, and filled with growing, prosperous communities, which can live as one with nature.
One Swedish designer by the name of Erik Melldahl, has teamed with BMW to introduce the 3D printable Maasaica concept vehicle. Although such a vehicle is still likely several decades away, the concept certainly brings many clever futuristic ideas and designs into play.
The vehicle, which could one day be locally constructed in the Serengeti, using advanced technology such as 3D printing and degradable materials that dissolve back into the environment, is a marvel to envision.
“The intention with Maasaica was to do a concept, which will leave questions and thoughts about how to best design a sustainable, locally produced car,” explained Erik Melldahl on his website. “Another aim with the project was to question the methods and ideas of the conservative automotive industry. As designers we have a great opportunity to influence a product early in the process. However, one can also see it as we have a great responsibility to do our best to design products for a better society. That is what Massaica is about.”
The main body of the vehicle is completely degradable. It is made of a mixture of mycelium mushrooms and grass, which are grown on top of a structure which can be 3D printed. Within just a few days, the 3D printed structure, along with the grass and mycelium, could grow to a point where a solid, strong, light-weight body for a vehicle has formed. An example of what can be done when working with mycelium mushrooms and 3D printed structures can be seen in this example of 3D printed furniture we covered last month.
Maasaica, which comes from the Latin word for the lion species in Kenya, would feature tire treads in the shape of lion footprints, and would also be capable of collecting water for local villagers by means of fog, via a special membrane on the car’s surface. It could also use integrated solar panels to collect sun light during daytime hours, which it could use as its main source of power for the engine.
“I am imagining that in the future, factories will not just produce one kind of product,” Melldahl told 3DPrint.com. “It will be a range of things from house parts, clothes, food, electronics and cars. And when the technology gets cheaper there will be local factories with 3D printing farms. As a costumer/user you will bring your manufacturing drawing/blueprint or computer file, and just order what you want. Therefore the factories themselves will not be owned by BMW, so materials and the manufacturing are local.”
Although such a concept likely will not be realized for 10, 20 or even 30 years, we are already beginning to see 3D printing used in the construction of vehicles, and mycelium composite materials have proven to be quite strong already, when combined with 3D printed plastic structures. This Maasaica concept is envisioned to be a reality by 2040, however, such a reality may come sooner than even the designers and BMW hope. Let’s hear your thoughts on this concept vehicle in the 3D Printable BMW concept forum thread on 3DPB.com.