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.