EDAG is a German design and engineering firm that has been working with most car manufacturers for the past four decades and also built a Pontiac Solstice shooting brake because wagons rock. Their latest concept is a 3D-printed composite passenger cell that was inspired by turtles and goes beyond today's possibilities.
3D printing is a fantastic tool used by the industry for rapid-prototyping. That speeds up the designing phase quite significantly together with 3D modeling, but what if they could actually print parts of a car as well? In fact, let's go one step further and imagine if they could produce structural parts or even a complete vehicle using this technology! It would change the way we think about and make cars forever.
For starters, cars would become lighter. Printed parts could use all sorts of hollow and cleverly balanced designs to get rid of all the fat. Designers could be let loose as well since almost no shapes would be impossible for series production anymore. And when the crazy shapes all came together, carmakers could lose most of their tooling. Today's complex assembly lines could become much more basic if the entire body would be a solid piece of plastic fantastic that only needs the drivetrain, the interior, lots of wiring and a few other bits here and there before rolling out the factory. But it's not just about car manufacturing.
Such an advanced level of 3D-printing could mean that damaged parts could be reproduced at your local service station while you're having a coffee observing the magical machinery at work. Ready in five minutes, ten, maybe an hour if it was a big one, depending on how much tech advances over time.
It also means flexibility in the build process. Without set jigs, an age of customized factory coachbuilding could emerge. Unique designs could be easier than ever and factory options and body styles could be wider than ever. It's a very exciting piece of tech for designers.
Like we said, parts could become lighter. Right now, that excites Christian von Koenigsegg. A lot. He said he saw a time in the future where there could be lighter weight structural components that were 3D printed. What that means is a typically solid structure could instead of a lattice work inside to maintain rigidity and reduce weight. It's a dream for an engineer to shave weight in areas they never dreamed of before.
It's all very Star Trek and could go way beyond the car industry as well, but despite all the excitement, don't hold your breath just yet.
While companies like Koenigsegg see 3D printing as a way to make intricate parts that a supplier would charge outrageous amounts to create the pieces in limited supply. That means they have been able to 3D print their titanium exhaust tip for the Koenigsegg One:1, a three day process. It's also the largest piece of 3D printed titanium in the world.
But a full car? Well, that's decades off. Right now, EDAG says we're at the point of 3D printing something the size of a rearview mirror, not a whole car for series production. But through new methods, that's coming. It just might take a while.