The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) put a new twist on an old classic when they revealed their 3-D printed 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. The Shelby project builds on the successful completion of the Strati, a fully 3-D printed vehicle created through a collaboration between Local Motors and ORNL.
ORNL printed the car using the newly improved Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine that used an ABS plastic and carbon fiber composite. ORNL’s BAAM machine now has a smaller print bead size, resulting in a smoother surface finish on the printed pieces. TruDesign applied the surface finish on the car for the auto show. ORNL’s printed replica turned out to be half the weight and three times as strong as the original Shelby Cobra, with increased performance and safety.
“Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing as an innovative and viable manufacturing technology,” says Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. “You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks [and] … test it for form, fit and function.”
ORNL’s partner Local Motors is also making strides in additive manufacturing and plans to capitalize on its potential for the automotive industry. Local Motors intends to be the first company to build and sell 3-D printed cars and has announced plans to debut their fleet of 3-D printed cars at a new lab, showroom and assembly floor they plan to open at Washington DC’s National Harbor in late 2015. At the National Harbor location, patrons will be able to design and help in the manufacturing of their own cars. Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers describes their plan as a “Build-a-Bear mashed up with Ikea mashed up with Formula 1.”