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Surprising Science

3-D Printed Car on Display

An environmentally friendly car which gets 200 miles per gallon and was partly made using 3-D printing technology has gone on show in Canada. Commercial production may begin in 2014. 

What’s the Latest Development?


The Urbee is a concept car that, using electric motors backed up by a small ethanol-powered engine, is capable of 200 miles per gallon. While the car has been in development for years, its complete printed body shell has never been seen publicly before. But now the car is on display in Winnipeg, Canada. “The use of ‘additive manufacturing’, where layers of material are built up, or ‘printed’ to form a solid objects, contributed to the car’s green credentials, according to project leader Jim Kor.” He hopes to achieve commercial production by 2014.

What’s the Big Idea?

While 3-D printing has typically been used for prototyping, making a unique version of an item as part of a design process, the technology is increasingly used to create physical objects without the need for shipping. “Among the many fields expected to embrace the technology is the medical profession, with equipment and even prosthetic body parts potentially being printed. ‘This process could revolutionise how we make things. It has certainly changed my way of thinking about manufacturing,’ said Mr Kor.”


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