Engineers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have taken 3D printed cars a step further by building an urban solar electric car encased in a 3-D-printed body shell, the first of its kind.

The NTU Venture 8 and NTU Venture 9 cars are mounted on a single-shell carbon fiber chassis. The NTU Venture 8 uses a honeycomb structure and a unique joint design to ensure the car doesn’t come apart. In addition, the chassis is transparent when hit by the light at the right angle. The NTU Venture 9 is the smaller one in the pair, with three wheels and a tilting means of making turns, like a motorcycle.

Students from NTU spent a year building the electric cars from scratch after creating the design for the vehicles. The students used silicon solar cells, which can be molded into the shape of the car. They used 3-D printing technology to form the cabin from lightweight plastic in order to maximize space inside the vehicle and to make the driver more comfortable. This also allowed for maintaining a minimum weight for the car, which can still run as fast as 60 kph with very low consumption of energy.

NTU associate professor Ng Heong Wah expressed his pride at having been able to work with this project. “The 3-D printed car body was pushing existing technology to the limits and we are so pleased that it has paid off,” he says.

The students said that they would participate in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia competition in 2015 using the NV8 as entry to the Urban Concept category.