The Oak Ridge National Laboratory 3D-printed a Shelby Cobra in six weeks.
Frankly, we don’t blame them.
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The Shelby Cobra is known for a rich racing history by taking on a hot-rodder’s mentality. How? They stuck a massive, American-built V8 engine into a lightweight chassis. They let the power-to-weight ratio do the work. It worked to the tune of one lost race in a three year span. That shouldn’t be surprising when a 260cu.in. or 289 cu.in. V8 is put onto a chassis that weighs a little more than a Lotus Elise.
With revolutionary techniques, automotive construction does not have to be as labor-intensive or as energy dense. Ford created the assembly line, which streamlined automotive construction and helped to lower costs for the Model T. Using 3D printing takes that to the next level. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory isn’t an automotive manufacturer, but they do create better tools for more efficient processes.
Here is a video of a timelapse of the construction of the chassis:
Here’s a more thorough look of assembly for the Shelby Cobra:
Construction like this saves hundreds of thousands of dollars and saves time as well. The chassis is made of a material similar specific parts of the BMW i3, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. Using this material creates a rigid form, keeps weight down, and is easy to mold and shape after the initial prints have been made.
The possibilities are endless. Really, what would you try to build if you could design anything you wanted? I’d likely do something bizarre, like an all-wheel-drive, second generation MR2 with a 6-speed manual transmission, once I get the permission to use the design first.
I’m not surprised they made a Shelby Cobra as the first car. Wouldn’t you do the same?