University demonstrates a lesson in 3D printing

Aachen University has utilised Stratasys' largest multi-material 3D printer, Objet1000 3D Production System, to build a fully functional prototype electric car in just 12 months.

Described by the German institution as “paradigm-breaking”, the StreetScooter project began in 2010 with the goal of developing an electric car that rivalled conventional vehicles on price with realistic performance, safety and sustainability.

The StreetScooter C16 was built using the large format Objet1000 Multi-material 3D Production System for all its exterior plastic parts, including the large front and back panels, door panels, bumper systems, side skirts, wheel arches, lamp masks, and a number of interior components such as the retainer instrument board.

Parts were 3D printed using Stratasys’ tough digital ABS material, which reportedly enabled the engineering team to build a prototype car that could perform in strenuous testing environments to the same level as a vehicle made of traditionally manufactured parts.

While specifications vary from model to model, a StreetScooter C16 is expected to typically weigh 450kg (1000lbs) – excluding battery, have a range of around 100km (80 miles) and deliver a top speed of 100km/h (60mph), making it an ideal city vehicle, according to the university.

Professor of production management in Aachen University’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Achim Kampker commented: “The Objet1000 is the largest multi-material 3D production system on the market and Aachen University was the first university in the world to have one.

“Being able to use it in the development of large and small parts for StreetScooter was exciting in itself, but the contribution the 3D printed parts made to the construction of the car was enormous.

“The ability to produce full-scale prototypes that perform like the final parts, accelerated testing and design verification, enabling us to bring to market a prototype electric car in just 12 months – something that is just unimaginable with traditional manufacturing.”

3D printing technology had been used before by Aachen University for its StreetScooter project. Various components of the StreetScooter were 3D printed in the early design phase of the car for the fast realisation of geometric and functional prototypes.

Stratasys is a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions and has recently announced that it will display the StreetScooter C16 on its stand at the upcoming EuroMold exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany (November 25–28).

Shelly Linor, director of global education at Stratasys, noted: “With StreetScooter, the Objet1000 3D Production System not only enabled the very rapid design and development of the vehicle, but also demonstrates the capabilities of additive manufacturing for producing final parts used in demanding applications.”