At 200 miles-per-gallon, the Urbee hybrid-electric car is touted by some as the “greenest car in the world.” But what might truly set the Urbee apart is that instead of building a prototype the “old-fashioned” way, Canadian design firm KOR EcoLogic printed one from a computer.
The Urbee is the first car produced from a 3D printer using advanced design tools provided by Autodesk through their Clean Tech Partner Program, which grants licenses to early stage clean-tech firms to suites of Autodesk design software worth up to $150,000 for only $50.
Using tools including Autodesk Inventor, Showcase, and Alias Design software, KOR Ecologic was able to design and test the Urbee from concept to prototype execution, testing parameters such as road and wind conditions early in the design phase. With Inventor, different body designs were tested to minimize drag, reduce weight, and eliminate excess body parts, allowing for more than 80 percent of the Urbee’s environmental impact to be determined before any prototyping. With Showcase, 3D renderings were created to show potential investors photo-realistic rendering of the Urbee. The fully tested and rendered body design was then 3D printed with an additive process provided by Autodesk partner Stratasys’ digital manufacturing service.
“The Urbee was designed from the ground up to be as efficient as possible, and to run on renewable energy,” said Jim Kor, president and chief technology officer of KOR EcoLogic. “From concept through rendering, Autodesk software helped us not only build an efficient and sustainable car, but also communicate our designs to a broader audience, including potential investors.”
The renewable car
The Urbee “vision” is to use minimal energy and produce less pollution from design through operation and recycling. The car can be charged with a standard 110V home outlet, a home solar array or windmill, and runs on as little as one cent of energy per miles traveled. KOR Ecologic claims that an Urbee will last a minimum of thirty years before recycling. “Urbee” stands for URBan Electric with Ethanol Backup.