3D Printed Shelby Cobra: Video
Since 3D printing is still very much in its infancy, we are still trying to figure out just how it can be used to improve our lives. There are surely automotive applications for such a thing, but what they are and how they would be best implemented is largely unknown. So Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working with the Department of Energy, has built a Shelby Cobra replica using 3D printing to manufacture many of the parts. Specifically, the entire chassis and body of the car.
Obviously, quite a bit of the car couldn’t be printed, like the electric drivetrain, for instance. But those parts that were printed were good enough that you can’t tell the difference just to look at the car. As is mentioned in the video, the process isn’t suited to mass-producing cars and it won’t be for years. But it is an amazingly efficient way of producing one-offs and/prototypes, much faster than the practices currently in use. What this means to those of us who don’t run car companies is something we’ll have to wait to see, but what we’re hoping is that it means a lot more concepts and prototypes turning up at car shows, in much greater variety.