The 3D-Printed Urbee 2 Hybrid Car is Light, Strong, and Nearing Production

by , 03/03/13

urbee, jim kor, kor ecologic, hybrid vehicle, 3d printed

Nothing says “Welcome to the Future” like a 3D-printed runabout vehicle with a hybrid engine, three wheels, speeds of up to 68 mph, and capacity to carry up to 1,200 lbs. The Urbee 2 is the result of Jim Kor’s dream for a modern, sustainable vehicle that will someday revolutionize the way that we commute. The exterior’s lightweight construction of ABS plastic allows for a minimum amount of drag and fuel required to operate the car, and it’s stronger and more easily manipulated than steel. Able to hold two passengers, the Urbee could very well be the next big thing in urban transportation.

Jim Kor has long been involved in engineering efficient, ecologically-minded vehicles. Through his firm, Kor Ecologic , he has designed tractors and buses, and now the company has set its sights on commercial commuters. Working with RedEye, an on-demand 3D printing facility, the team behind the Urbee used ABS plastic and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to fabricate an extremely precise, light, and strong body for the car. The printers can spray polymer down to the microscopic layer, creating a whole 10-foot car in 2,500 hours, continuing automatically even when the engineers have packed up and gone home. The materials and machines let the framework avoid the need for the connecters, nuts, and bolts required for traditional cars made from sheet metal and can construct parts out of large single pieces of plastic. This translates into a much lighter unit with a 0.15 coefficient of drag, and far less fuel to move the 1,200 lb vehicle.

The engine and the chassis will still be made from metal, and the max 10 horsepower engine is still in development. Most of the city driving (up to 40 mph) will be powered by a 36-volt electric motor, and higher speeds will be achieved by a diesel engine that can potentially be run on ethanol. For safety, the team says they want the car to pass the same technical regulations found at Le Mans, and the design puts a metal roll cage around the driver similar to those found in NASCAR. In most states and countries, the designers foresee the Urbee being registered as a motorcycle, due to its weight and size. Currently, Kor’s team is using crash simulation software to fine tune the safety features, and wait for more funding to complete the testing.

The Urbee already has 14 orders at $50,000 each. When more cash comes in, the head engineer plans on taking the most recent prototype across the country on only 10 gallons of pure ethanol. They hope to get Guinness involved as a way to stir interest and set a new standard for how the world moves.

+ Urbee

Via Wired

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  1. larry8781 December 7, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Elio Motors are making a three wheeled vehicle with a price tag of $6800. This low priced vehicle has a better chance of changing how we commute than a $50,000 vehicle!!!

  2. Steven Geczi December 6, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I wonder how fuel efficient it would be if you would put heavy luggage in the trunk.

  3. NRooster December 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I think its rather on the high side for a 3D printed vehicle.

  4. Mike Kloppel June 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

    We have “massively” explored the sun as a source of energy, for over 7 decades with what I would only call minor advances. Some projects have utilized it effectively but not efficiently. Most solar projects have an efficiency of less than ~25% and the closer you get to that 25% the more the cost increases, dramatically. And lets not forget the current fickle nature of solar.

    When on the other hand you can create combined cycle power plants that can reach efficiency of 50-60% using cheap and effective mechanical systems. Then there is Nuclear, demonized by eco-mystics and regulated to death by government, which is a viable safe source of energy that is highly under utilized.

    As for ethanol as a driver of food prices: True. But we have much more land we can utilize (A LOT more) and with advances in Genetic Modification you could see massive increases for very little cost come soon. Those plants produce another cheap, renewable, source of energy. It cannot yet compete with coal or oil necessarily but perhaps it will with more advances (that seem to come out daily now).

  5. Mark McKee June 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    100% of the fuel on our planet ultimate came from and comes from the sun. (Except nuclear) Whether it’s dead dinosaurs, wind, hydro, methane, ethanol/alcohol, you name it. It came from the sun.

    Ethanol competes with food production to store solar energy using photosynthesis to make plants that are then fermented to make alcohol. So why don’t we just massively explore using the sun directly. And not compete with food.

  6. nick aikens May 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Ethenol is alcahol, not a fossil fuel. If you were to grow a high sugar crop and ferment them yourself, that would be more envirnmentally consious than a pure electric car, which uses not only electicity, but large batteries. Both are environmental hazards. As for why the urbee might be better in other ways: what other car can you drive coast to coast without stopping? I’d take an urbee over a tesla any day.

  7. Dean Miller March 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Or you could buy a 40 kWh battery Tesla Model S and use no ethanol, have more room, and get it in 4 to 6 months for the same price.

  8. Bernard LeVeque March 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    @Noneya Biznazz “2500 hours each? Thats insane. Thats 104 days per car. Think about that. It’ll take 4 years just to put out the 15 or so for those already wanting one.”

    Rally misses the point of the future applications of 3D Printing. You statement assumes there is only 1 3D printer working on 1 car at a time. What if there was a group of 2500 printers for example, the possibilities are endless using division of labor.

    As for the inclusion of a combustion engine, in till a more portable, safe, permanent, reliable, and accessible technology becomes available; liquid fuel will be the standard for mobile power generation. Currently there is only two other options in that category, and the idea of every one driving around with a nuclear reactor freaks me out or getting stranded because the battery is dead and it is a cloudy day does not sound fun either.

  9. Sueweus March 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    @Noneya Biznazz, I think Pebble was referring to the consumption of fossil fuels in the production of ethanol, higher levels of VOC released than previously thought. Then there\’s all the fuels required to grow the corn itself. Still a valid issue that would need to be adressed.

  10. Noneya Biznazz March 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    And in response to Pebble, below, ethanol isn’t a fossil fuel. Its basically alcohol made from corn. It doesn’t come from underground. Please read and learn something before spilling your hippie juice all over the future.

    The fuel isn’t the problem. Energy storage is the problem.

  11. Noneya Biznazz March 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    2500 hours each? Thats insane. Thats 104 days per car. Think about that. It’ll take 4 years just to put out the 15 or so for those already wanting one.

  12. Steven Reid March 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Pretty cool.. until a F-350 reverses on top of you.

  13. bthinker March 1, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Kinda wonder what kind of batteries they’re considering to propel this threewheeler. Air-Li or MITs porous Li wouldn’t be bad ideas. As the lightweight is already innate to it’s form it shouldn’t flaw it’s design carrying far too many basic Li batteries.If they make it radio free they could use that whole top window as solar semitranlucent glass to charge the car(slightly)maybe 2-5% daily. Brings me back to the cork car a bit, I guess we’ll see when they hit the prototype stage.

  14. Pebble Haniford February 28, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Here’s the problem: the issue isn’t that it uses fossil fuel MORE efficiently…it’s that it uses it at all! Seriously, innovation is NOT simply trying to find a better way to use an already faulty and failing system; innovation is the process of completely flipping a concept, efficient is no longer good enough. What we truly need is EFFECTIVE! And using fossil fuels, no matter how efficiently, is still…NOT EFFECTIVE!

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