If you were to tell me that 3D printed cars would actually be a thing, just a few years ago, I would have probably laughed in your face and called you insane. Boy have times changed! Today, there are several companies either contemplating the idea of 3D printing vehicles, or that have already done so. At the forefront of this new automobile manufacturing landscape is a company we have covered numerous times in the past, Local Motors. They have already 3D printed the Strati car, and have more vehicles on the way very soon.
Previously we reported on a man named Andy Tran who runs a company called SWFL 3D, located in Naples, Florida. He is in the process of developing a large-scale 3D printer called the “Mille” which is housed inside of a shipping container. I recently had the chance to take the 1-hour drive from my home in Cape Coral to meet with Tran and see some of the stuff that he is in the process of working on.
Another project which Tran tells us he has been working on for quite some time is the AeroCycle car, which is a design for 3D printed vehicle that could be printed inside his Mille 3D printer, or another large-scale printer of similar size.
“The AeroCycle (concept name) is derived from my near obsession with personal transport,” Tran tells 3DPrint.com. “I like the idea of creating a personal transport vehicle that offers aerodynamic style and efficiency. The AeroCycle is an original design featuring an aerofoil shape, electric drive, regenerative, solar and 3D printing technology. It uses a rear hub motor, or AWD hub motor system, giving you maximum space inside the cabin. “
The car is slated to featured different mode settings which allow for different speeds and ranges. The vehicle will be charged via induction pads and regenerative braking, and it will feature a tablet control system to monitor the vitals and sensors. Other features include air conditioning (quite important down here in Florida), as well as being a mobile WiFi hotspot and providing for USB charging of electronics. The windows and roof on the car will be self-dimming and the rear spoiler will be electronically controlled, allowing for a change in air flow while driving.
While the car still remains in the concept stage, Tran tells us that he hopes to build a full-scale concept of the AeroCycle in collaboration with other industry players.
“The method to [maufacture] the vehicle will be similar to the Strati (Local Motors) and I have plans to visit Oak Ridge National Lab to further the [development of the] Mille 3D printer, and possibly print an AeroCycle,” Tran tells us. “I hope to collaborate with Local Motors.”
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a company that features large-scale 3D printers, known as BAMM. They have played a role in helping Local Motors print out their vehicles. Certainly this would be a tremendous start for Tran.
The AeroCycle will be fabricated in a similar fashion as the Strati car was, but it would be a single seater, making it easier for the vehicle to cut through the air when driving, by reducing the total drag. It would be printed using composite materials such as carbon fiber and other “emerging thermoplastic materials”. The entire body would be 3D printed, and the suspension would be bolted right to it.
As for expected pricing on the vehicle, Tran doesn’t have a solid price figured out as of yet, but he says that it will cost less than the price of a new golf cart. Without a doubt 3D printed vehicles will continue to make headlines, and if Tran has anything to say about it, the AeroCycle will be the one that the world hears about. What do you think about the concept of this 3D printed car? Would you pay the price of a golf cart to own one? Discuss in the AeroCycle forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out some more photos below.