The claim that 3D printing is the next trillion dollar industry is backed up by the results of last month’s Formula Student 2012, the annual event that challenges engineering students to build and race single-seat cars.
The Areion, entered by Belgian Group T, is not only the world’s first car made almost entirely from 3D printed parts, it’s really fast as well.
Weighing in at 617 lbs, according to Inhabitat, the Areion is heavier than most of the other cars competing on Germany’s Hockenheim race circuit, but that did not stop it from accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just four seconds and reaching a top speed of 88 mph.
3D printing is a remarkably flexible technology. It makes prototyping and manufacturing simpler and more accessible. It alleviates the need for economies of scale. The success of the Areion is compelling evidence 3D printing can be applied to the automotive industry.
Group T, from International University College Leuven near Brussels, used Mammoth stereolithography machines built by Materialise, to produce parts as large as the Areion’s entire body. They added an electric drive train, and just three weeks after establishing an initial design, they had a car that was ready to race.
In the future, you’ll be able to think up a car and print it out.