Mar 19, 2014 6:10 PM GMT
The assembly line isn’t going away, but 3-D printing is going to reshape how we make cars. The EDAG Genesis points the way, with an beautifully crafted frame made from a range of materials and inspired by a turtle’s skeleton.
The German engineering firm showed off the Genesis design concept at the Geneva Motor Show as proof that additive manufacturing–EDAG’s fancy term for 3-D printing–can be used to make full-size car components. It’s on an entirely different scale than the tiny, 3-D printed creations coming out of a desktop Makerbot, but it’s also just a frame–a stylized chassis that’s more art than reality.
Before settling on 3-D printing, EDAG tried a few different acronym-heavy options, including selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), and stereolithography (SLA). But after extensive tinkering, the final process they used was a modified version of fused-deposition modeling, or FDM.
EDAG’s robot built the Genesis concept by creating a thermoplastic model of the complex interior, although the company says they could use carbon fiber to make the structure both stronger and lighter. EDAG envisions the Genesis as being surrounded by an exterior frame–likely steel or aluminum–to provide a tough exterior to protect the lattice-like monocoque.