Further pushing the envelope when it comes to car manufacturing, Honda has now made steps into the world of 3D printing, teaming up with the Japanese tech company Kabuku to create its first ever 3D printed ‘Micro Commuter’ electric car.
3D printing is becoming cheaper and larger in scale, and while other companies such as Tesla and Nissan continue to try and develop a long-range electric car which is affordable, Honda seem to have found a particular niche with this short-range model.
The Micro Commuter car is only small, and is comparable in size to the existing Renault Twizy, making it ideal for delivery drivers in narrow city streets.
As such, where a Twizy would have a rear passenger seat, the Honda has a small cargo area.
Specifically, it sizes up at 2,495mm long, 1,280mm wide, 1,545mm tall and weighs in at 600kg.
The vehicle’s bodywork only took two months to design and has been 3D printed, while underneath it has a lightweight pipe framework to keep its weight down.
This process is not only quicker and cheaper than traditional methods, but it also uses less equipment and fewer raw materials.
As for power, the Micro Commuter runs on Honda’s Micro EV technology which is used on the MC-β ultra-compact EV in Japan.
Honda and Kabuku unveiled the vehicle at the 2016 Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) in Japan, claiming that by 3D printing the bodywork they are reducing the cost and production time, making it ripe for mass production, although it is just a prototype at this stage.
Its micro-van setup, as well as its electric vehicle architecture, means that the vehicle is perfect for local couriers, and will be used by the Japanese confectionary maker, Toshimaya to deliver their most famous product, a dove-shaped shortbread called ‘Hato Sablé’.
As for how far the vehicle will be able to travel before being charged, this hasn’t been specified of yet, although Honda did indicate that it is only intended to be used for short range trips up to around 80km (50 miles).
It will take around seven hours to charge on a 100v charger or three for a 200v charger, and will reach a top speed of 43mph (69 kmph), with a brake horsepower of 15.
While 3D printed vehicles have been produced before because the vehicle is so quickly customisable, its usage could easily be altered, and new components produced using 3D printing to make vehicles to suit different needs.
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