Local Motors is not the only company offering 3D printed cars to customers. In Japan, Honda is using 3D printing to make highly customizable vehicles to suit the particular needs of individual customers. At this year’s CEATEC show in Tokyo, the Japanese company is showcasing an all electric Micro Commuter car with a body made of 3D printed panels. The body pieces took nearly a month to be printed by a Stratsys printer.
The car was created for Toshimaya cookie company, noted for its bird shaped butter cookies. So Honda programmed the 3D printer to incorporate lots and lots of bird shapes into the finished panels. Getting those shapes embedded into the bodywork would be impossible using any other manufacturing techniques. The design phase for the exterior took Honda people more than two months to complete.
The Micro Commuter has a maximum range of about 50 miles. It has three separate battery packs — one under the floor of the car and two mounted in slots next to the driver’s seat. Those auxiliary packs can be removed easily and brought indoors for charging if there is no charger available outside. Together they only provide about 10 miles of range but that would usually be enough to get the vehicle back to its home base where regular charging arrangements are available. The car uses a tube frame borrowed from Honda’s motorcycle division to support the exterior panels, according to Endgadget.
The car for Toshimaya cookie company has several special features built in. It has slide out trays in the rear and tie down points to keep boxes filled with confectionery delights from sliding around en route to customers. Honda is also thinking about other ways to customize the highly flexible Micro Commuter chassis. A car it has done for a coffee roasting company has a removable coffee cart built in to the rear. Another for a fish company is shaped to actually look like a fish.
While these custom made cars are somewhat whimsical, they point the way to a future in which 3D printing will make it possible for more people to drive a car that reflects their occupation or personality. Like the offerings from Local Motors, each vehicle could be completely recycled into something different at the whim of the owner. With advances in technology, anything is possible.
Source: C/Net RoadShow Photos credits: Endgadget