Gizmos & Gadgets: Meet Urbee II the 3D-Printed Car

Urbee II seen in the image below, sounds like it is, a cuddly urban three-wheel automobile that is futuristic in its design. What makes it different from any other vehicle on the road today? Much of it is produced using 3D printing technology.

The exterior is molded impact-resistant plastic. It features a race-car roll cage. Shock absorbing parts are also 3D printed. The car seats two and weighs approximately one quarter that of regular cars.

Urbee is the invention of Jim Kors who along with an elite group of engineers designed and built it in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Urbee is a hybrid featuring a single-cylinder ethanol burning engine combined with electric motors. It doesn’t have  the horses or pickup of an internal combustion engine vehicle but in terms of fuel consumption Urbee can’t be beat with ratings of

1.17 liters per 100 kilometers (about 200 miles per gallon) on the highway.

2.35 liters per 100 kilometers (about 100 miles per gallon) in city traffic.

Combine that with the fact that Urbee will never rust and you have a vehicle that could last you 30 years and save you a lot of money.

Why 3D print a car? Because with all parts rendered at the point of assembly, manufacturing costs will be quite low. And model changes are easy, just alter the software program and send the new designs to to your 3D printers. The process, called three dimensional additive manufacturing, prints parts layer by layer. Currently all body panels and shock absorbing materials are produced this way. In the future the plan is to print the entire car.

The first commercial Urbee is expected to be on the road in 2014 with an initial sticker price of $30,000. I expect that should rapidly come down as the car gains popularity.




Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...