3D print concept car (parts)

When you want to make something, you start with something and take out what you don’t want – subtractive manufacturing – or you start from nothing and add material, that is additive manufacturing which we usually call 3D printing. popular science recently took a look at Vital Auto, the UK lab that uses 3D printing for high-end concept cars from companies like Rolls-Royce, McLauren, Jaguar and others. In the video below, [Anthony Barnicott]engineer at Vital, says the two technologies – additive and subtractive – work best when used together.

As you’d expect, they’re not using a $200 FDM printer. They have three Formlab 3Ls that print with resin and five Formlab Fuse 1 selective sinter printers. While metal printers are still rare in hacker shops, resin printers are now very affordable although your garage printer is probably a little smaller than the 335x200x300 mm volume of the 3L. For comparison, an LCD-screen AnyCubic Photon X only provides 165 x 132 x 80mm. Of course, you’re looking at around $11,000 for the dual-laser 3L versus around $240 for the Photon.

Vital started building the EP9 concept electric car for NIO, an electric car manufacturer in China. You can imagine that modern manufacturing machines make it possible to create more sophisticated concept cars faster. How often do you want to polish a part that takes eight hours to produce by a stagehand? But if you can just leave a machine running overnight and get the result in the morning, you’re more likely to change and refine the part.

Vital Auto is an interesting look at how professional manufacturing shops use the same technologies that we do, at least to the core. We’ve already noted how these same technologies make homebrew projects look better than some commercial products not too long ago. You can print great things if you break them, of course. Or blow your piggy bank and buy a really big printer.

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