Urbee 2, the 3D-Printed Car that will drive across the country
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About two years from now, Cody and Tyler Kor, now 20 and 22 years old, respectively, will drive coast-to-coast in the lozenge-shaped Urbee 2, a car made mostly by 3D printing. Like Jackson and Crocker, the young men will take a dog along for the ride—Cupid, their collie and blue heeler mix. Unlike Jackson and Crocker, they will spend just 10 gallons of fuel to complete the trip from New York to San Francisco. Then they will refuel, turn around, and follow the same west-to-east route taken by Jackson, Crocker, and Bud.
Cody and Tyler's father, Jim Kor, beams when he talks about the trip. "The Google time estimate is 44 hours, but it will take a bit longer, I'm sure," says Kor, president of Kor Ecologic and team leader of the Urbee 2 project. "You know, the dog has to pee and whatnot. And we could have a breakdown. But it will be a swift and efficient trip."
Jim Kor described this ambitious endeavor at the Manufacturing the Future Summit on Wednesday. Stratasys, a global additive-manufacturing company, hosted the event at its Eden Prairie, Minn., headquarters. PopMech joined a small group of journalists at the meeting, which featured presentations by many early adopters of 3D printing.
The terms additive manufacturing and 3D printing are synonymous. A computer-aided design (CAD) file is uploaded to a 3D printer, which reads the file and creates the object, using, for example, PolyJet or Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) systems. A PolyJet machine uses liquid resins to build an object one microscopic layer at a time, following the CAD file’s code, and then cures the material with UV lights. FDM is a similar process, but it uses molten polymers. Printers can be as small as a microwave oven (such as MakerBot's desktop models) or as large as a minivan. The biggest Stratasys model, the Fortus 900mc, is more than 9 feet long and 6 feet tall and weighs about 6600 pounds. It can print objects up to 36 by 24 inches.
Stratasys, which went into business in 1994, is growing fast. In August, it acquired MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based leader in desktop 3D printing, for a reported $604 million. It has 1600 employees worldwide, with offices in Israel, Asia, South America, and Europe. Its production arm, RedEye, has factories in Belgium, Turkey, and Australia, and at two other U.S. locations besides Eden Prairie. At Wednesday's press event, RedEye vice president Jim Bartel announced that the company would build production facilities in Shanghai in 2014.