You may have been marveling at the wonders of 3D printing lately. We certainly have.
It's a technology that allows you to print virtually anything you want – from phone cases to replacement parts for electronics. All you need is the digital design and the materials to feed the printer.
A group of Belgian students have been marveling at these wonders, too. Only they've decided to take this marveling to the next level.
Calling themselves Formula Group T for Formula Student's 2012 challenge, these students decided to 3D print an electric car.
And print it they did.
They dubbed their car the Areion, named after the quick mythical Greek horse who was given the power of speech. The team says on its website:
Strong, swift and immortal are exactly those characteristics we want to achieve with Areion. A fast, agile car which will set history in the future of Formula Group T.
It is completely electric, powered by a 50-volt lithium-ion battery pack and an 85kw motor. It weighs 617 pounds and can go from 0 to 62 in 3.2 seconds, reaching a top speed of 88 mph.
The Challenge is held annually in the UK by Formula Student, a European group for “educational motorsport competition.”
The group's website explains the requirements of the challenge:
The students are to assume that a manufacturing firm has engaged them to produce a prototype car for evaluation. The intended sales market is the non-professional weekend autocross or sprint racer...The teams must demonstrate the logic behind their assumption/proposal and must be able to demonstrate that it can support a viable business model for both parties.
The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable, with high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking, and handling qualities.
The cars undergo a number of tests, including a rain test in which the car is sprayed with water for an extended amount of time.
Things such as safety, acceleration, and fuel efficiency are also tested.
Parts of the Areion's body were printed by a Materialise mammoth stereolithography printer, which can print objects that are up to seven feet long. This included its actual body, textured nose, and nozzle and diffuser.
The shape, particularly the nose, was made to mimic the aerodynamics of a shark. It has a fan that draws in air and channels that prevent the accumulation of water and dirt.
The car took just three weeks to go from design to production. The 3D printing process certainly sped this up.
It has already completed races in the U.K. and in Hockenheim, Germany, where it won 11th place.
Watch the car in action:
3D printing is going to create a manufacturing revolution. The cutting-edge technology will allow at-home manufacturing and facility of production like never before.
It's already proving itself time and again with projects like this one by Formula Group T. Before you know it, we'll be printing organs.
Learn more about the technology here.
That's all for now,
Energy & Capital's modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends. For more on Brianna, see her editor's page.