Honda revealed their newest idea at CEATEC, which opened Tuesday and will run until October 7. The consumer electronics show is Japan’s largest, and features some of the biggest technology of the future – including Honda’s Micro Commuter electric car concept. “Micro” is an appropriate term, as the car is tiny, but its small size packs a lot of function – and its overall coolness factor is not to be underestimated. The outside of the Micro Commuter was almost entirely 3D printed on a Stratasys printer, in a process that took a full month of nonstop printing.
Honda’s motorcycle division had a lot to do with the design and engineering of the car, which has a frame of pipes similar to the a motorcycle, giving it a lightweight but strong structure beneath the 3D printed panels. Japanese design firm Kabuku and their Rinkak Mass Customization Solution also helped with the design of the car, which is where the personalized aspects really started to come in. The particular model shown at CEATEC was designed for Toshimaya, a Japanese cookie company whose claim to fame is a butter cookie in the shape of a bird. Kabuku took that bird shape and turned it into a repeating motif across the outside panel of the hatchback trunk, as well as around the windows and on the seats.The bird design, which marked the car as Toshimaya’s in a more subtle and artistic fashion than simply emblazoning their name across the side, was just the beginning of the customization that went into the vehicle. The car itself was engineered with convenient features specially tailored to a cookie service, such as trays that can be slid out of the back and tie-downs to stabilize cookie cargo on its way to being delivered. The thin frame of the car was also designed per Toshimaya’s request, as the roads in their delivery area are particularly narrow. Honda also illustrated other concepts for vehicles tailored to particular businesses, such as a car with a removable coffee cart for a coffee company, and even a fish-shaped car for a fish delivery company. (I would seriously love to see that coming down the street.) Their point is that with 3D printing, the options for creating a completely individualized vehicle, customized in both appearance and function, is possible in a way it never has been before.
The electric Micro Commuter has a range of about 80 km (50 miles) maximum, with removable battery packs for quick charging. While the car as a whole is still in the early stages, Toshimaya’s model is fully functional, and they will reportedly begin using it for deliveries in the spring. After that, who knows – we may begin seeing fish-shaped cars and other bizarre but convenient personalized vehicles on the road before too long. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Electric Honda forum over at 3DPB.com.[Sources/Images: Engadget / CNET]
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