Are You Ready for the 3-D Printed Car?

Are You Ready for the 3-D Printed Car?

Cheap, highly efficient cars created by printers spraying microscopic layers of plastic?

Sounds like someone has been watching a little too much SyFy Channel, but this idea is one whose time has come thanks to automotive engineering visionary Jim Kor. This is no joke. The man is THIS close to being ready to turn on the production line of the so-called Urbee, a vehicle half the weight of its metal counterpart but twice as strong and oh so economical.

Forget the traditional Detroit vision of creeping assembly lines manned by robotic arms welding big chunks of steel together. The Urbee is created

in a warehouse filled with print-on-demand 3-D printing stations. We?re not kidding. These futuristic three-wheel, two-passenger cars are created by printers that spray molten ABS plastic at a painstakingly slow pace (each Urbee takes about 2,500 hours to complete). On the plus side, Kor simply has to program one of the printers to create – say – a door, and the thing goes to work with no further monitoring necessary. Come back a week or so later and you?ve got a finished part.

The advantage to this process is that the printer can control thickness and rigidity to a degree sheet metal could never achieve. Need to thicken a bumper slightly in a particular spot for strength? 3-D printing can do it, no problem. That?s how the new technology can provide the same amount of passenger protection at a much lower weight.

Are you afraid the Urbee is going to explode on impact with the first squirrel that darts across the road? Once again, no need to fear. Mr. Kor plans to build his car to pass a technical inspection at LeMans. And the vehicle isn?t completely built from plastic. The 50 interlocking printed pieces are augmented by a metal engine, chassis, and protective tubular cage around the driver.

As an electric-gas hybrid, the Urbee should be able to sip fuel at the rate of a few hundred miles to the gallon. Kor hopes to put one of his cars to the test with a drive from New York to San Francisco on only ten gallons of ethanol. Will he be able to do it? Stay tuned and find out.

The question that?s begging to be asked, though, is will the flying car of the classic animated series The Jetsons be far behind? And what the heck does any of this have to do with Jason Hartman’s theories on income property investing? It should be obvious. Less money spent on fuel means more money to invest. (Top image: Flickr | Thomas Duchnicki)

The Young Wealth Team