Well, not exactly an *entire car* - but just its body. The Urbee was an entrant to Progressive Insurance's Automotive X-Prize. The competition has now closed and Urbee ended up ranked "in the top 30 in the world" according to a recent press release. What's so interesting about this to us? The car's body, including the glass panels, was entirely produced on a 3D printer from Stratasys, perhaps the first time this has ever been done.
The X-prize offered rewards totally USD$10M to be split among three winners, who have been announced. The winner was the 100mpg+ ethanol-based "Very Light Car" from Edison2 LLC of Charlottesville Virginia, who came away with a cool USD$5M. One of the other two winners achieved the remarkable feat of 197mpg!
It appears, however, that the Urbee is still under construction and is expected to be operational in March 2011. According to Urbee:
the car is not yet running at this time. Only three body panels are in place, but these highlight the unique approach taken in designing and building this car (from clay sculpture, to scanning by Tebis, aerodynamic simulation by CD-Adapco, and direct digital manufacturing by Stratasys/Redeye).
This vehicle will be displayed at this week's SEMA show in Las Vegas, and will be joined by a 1/6-size model in Stratasys's booth.
Will 3D-printed cars become the norm? Likely not for mass production, as it would be prohibitively expensive to do so. However, if it ever came to be that consumers could somehow choose their own styling or sizing, one-of-a-kind 3D printed cars might be the right approach. But it would still be fantastically expensive.