Blog: Are Printed Cars The Future Of Motorsports?

By Brandon Turkus

February 27, 2013

(photo credit: Klaus Cicha / Vienna University of Technology)
There’s been a large amount of yelling lately about 3-D printing, and how it’s the future of the world. Now, we’re hearing about the first car produced by the cutting-edge technique. Our friends at Wired Autopia took an in-depth look at engineer Jim Kor and his three-wheeled car, the Urbee 2, which was produced with 3-D printing.
The benefit of 3-D printing is that it cuts out heavy and expensive bits from the automotive build process. Steel body panels would be a thing of the past, instead getting replaced with printed plastic sheets. Complex shapes could be easier to produce, allowing designers to really get radical with a car’s styling. Crash safety, meanwhile, could be completely revolutionized by the concept.
While the printed car concept is an interesting one, if we’re ever going to see it on a large scale, it’ll come in motorsports.
3-D printing allows a great deal of flexibility in how a car is shaped, with different sections of body using different thicknesses of plastic. The benefit to aerodynamics could be huge, cutting out a large degree of the testing process, not to mention the expense and energy loss that comes with manufacturing parts for wind tunnel testing.
Be sure to head over to Wired and check out the full story, including how Kor’s Urbee 2 will be designed to pass the tech inspection at Le Mans, and what 3-D printing could mean for the future of automobiles.