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Students in Singapore Use 3D Printing to Create a Pair of Solar Powered Vehicles

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They’re called the the NTU Venture 8 and NTU Venture 9, and they’re a pair of student-designed project vehicles mounted on carbon fiber chassis structures which make use of solar power and 3D printing.

Image 192Students from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have built the “urban electric vehicles” and their 3D printed bodies in Singapore. The projects are an offshoot of the launch of the school’s new, $30 million, 3D printing-focused Additive Manufacturing Centre.

“We are extremely proud to have designed and assembled a 3D printed body shell for the electric car,” said NTU Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah. “The 3D printed car body was pushing existing technology to the limits and we are so pleased that it has paid off. Using the latest engineering techniques learned from their studies in NTU, the students have developed innovations such as silicon solar cells that can be contoured to follow the car’s shape.”s1

Undergraduates Ilmi Bin Abdul Wahab and co-designer Ng Jun Wen led the development of the NV8, and the decision to use 3D printing technology was made early in the process.

“We decided to go with a 3D printed cabin made from lightweight plastic as we wanted to maximize the internal space — and driver’s comfort — while still being able to [keep] the weight to a minimum,” says Wahab. “Despite being an Urban Concept car, it is no slouch and can reach a top speed of 60km/h (37 mph), while maintaining low energy consumption.”

Wen says a unique honeycomb design was chosen to the NV8 interior panels.

“For it to be lightweight, thin and yet strong, we integrated a honeycomb structure and a unique joint design to hold the parts together,” Wen said. “When seen against the light, the structure has a translucent, see-through effect like a dragonfly wing.”

s2The team say the car will be entered in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia competition later this year in the Urban Concept category. The Shell Eco-marathon Asia competition calls on students to design, build, and operate a vehicle. The winner is the vehicle which meets a pair of criteria: traveling the furthest while using the least amount of energy. The Shell Eco-marathon Asia is scheduled to take place in Manila from February 26 to March 1, 2015.

The NV9, the second vehicle created as part of the project, is a three-wheeled vehicle which can take corners using a “tilting” designed inspired by motorcycle racing designs. The NV9 includes hand-made silicon solar cells, and it will be entered in the Prototype category at the Shell competition.

“We took the tilting mechanism inspiration from motorcycle racing, where racers would lean left or right during sharp turns to maintain their handling and speed,” says NV9 Team Manager Winston Tan. “For the car’s body, we aimed for it to be as streamlined as possible.”

The two design teams included 16 students from the departments of engineering at NTU, and their cars were designed from the ground up and took more than a year to complete.

Have you heard of any student projects which combine 3D printing technology with sustainable energy? Let us know in the 3D Printed Pair of Solar Powered Vehicles forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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