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10 Ways 3-D Printing Could Change the World


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Cool Cars
Members of the Urbee 2 design team pose with the Urbee 2, a 3-D printed car. Korecologic
Members of the Urbee 2 design team pose with the Urbee 2, a 3-D printed car. Korecologic

3-D-printed auto parts have been around for a while, but inventor Jim Kor and a team of fellow engineers has gone a step further and printed an entire car. Wired reported in 2013 that the three-wheel, two-passenger Urbee 2 vehicle, which is mostly made of plastic, was created at a 3-D facility. The car is not roadworthy yet since a hybrid engine (made of metal) still has be designed, not to mention safety tests must be performed.

The vehicle took about 2,500 hours to fabricate, which means it's unlikely to be showing up in your local car dealer's showroom for a while. But it could be an omen of a future in which automakers can tinker minutely with designs and use 3-D printing to make fuel-efficient cars that are as strong and resilient as steel, but much lighter and optimally aerodynamic.

In 2015, assuming funding comes through, two of the Urbee 2 inventors plan to drive the car from New York to San Francisco in two days on 10 gallons (38 liters) of gas [source: Korelogic].