An Italy-based electric car company XEV and 3D printing material company Polymaker have announced of the first mass-producible 3D-printed electric car in the world. The announcement affirms how 3D printing technology can bring revolutionary changes to automotive manufacturing industry.
This car, named LSEV, could be the milestone product in the adoption of 3D printing into mainstream production. “XEV is the first real mass production project using 3D printing. By saying real, I mean there are also lots of other companies using 3D printing for production. But nothing can really compare with XEV in terms of the size, the scale, and the intensity,” said, Dr. Luo Xiaofan, the co-founder and CEO of Polymaker.
XEV CEO, Stanley said that “after the research and investigation of the global auto market, they decided to design a small electric vehicle that can achieve C2M (Customer-to-Manufacturer) manufacturing which is stated as a main goal of the Industry 4.0 strategy.”
To fulfill this target, it requires mass customization production, fast and cost-effective R&D, and the ability to produce lighter-weight parts that could lead to greater fuel efficiency. “And then, 3D printing technology becomes the only way to realize it,” said Stanley.
Surely there are many difficulties when utilizing 3D printing technology in auto volume production, Polymaker was chosen as the strategic partner and successfully helped XEV to solve them, not only with material solutions, but also post-processing options in-line with the automotive industry.
“Without Polymaker, we couldn’t make this happen. We really like our interactions with Polymaker, this can be called as know-how combination. Without this kind of interaction, we also couldn’t find the solution we have today. So, we really appreciate what Polymaker do and create for us, we are like brothers, not just strategic partners,” said Stanley.
Polymaker developed dozens of kinds of engineering plastics for XEV to meet their needs of practical applications. As a result, 3 crucial achievements have been accomplished.
- XEV has decreased the plastic parts and number of components in a car from more than 2,000 to 57, and the finished LSEV weighs only 450 kilograms, much lower than similar sized vehicles usually weighing between 1 and 1.2 metric tons.
- Apart from the chassis, seats and glass, all the visible parts of the car are made by Polymaker materials through 3D printing. This switch of production leads to more than 70 percent reduction of the investment cost in comparison with a traditional production system.
- Conventionally the R&D process of a car model takes about 3-5 years, but it only takes XEV 3-12 months to finish a new design.
Polymaker have also come up with solutions to help with surface treatments and color. These solutions are enormously helpful in customized production and 3D printing volume production. XEV has already received 7000 orders from Europe even before mass production commences. 5000 orders come from Poste Italiane.
And the other 2000 orders come from ARVAL, a vehicle leasing company fully owned by BNP Paribas. XEV plans to start production in the second quarter of 2019. This strategic partnership between XEV and Polymaker leads to a revolutionary change in automotive manufacturing.
It is possible that similar changes, related with 3D printing technology, will happen to every aspect of manufacturing very soon. As Polymaker proves that the 3D printing materials they provide are ready for not only end-use parts but also mass production of finished products.
Abu Dhabi-Based Khalifa University Develops 3D-Printed Glasses to Help Correct Colour Blindness
Khalifa University of Science and Technology, a consistently top-ranked research-intensive university based in Abu Dhabi, has developed a new method to manufacture customized glasses using 3D printing that could help people with colour blindness. Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) is an inherited ocular disorder that manifests itself by limiting the retina cones’ ability to transmit the whole spectrum of colours.
With red-green colour blindness being the most prevalent form of CVD, the most common way of dealing with everyday difficulties is by wearing tinted glasses. Now, a team of researchers from Khalifa University has developed lenses using transparent resin mixed with two wavelength-filtering dyes to provide a tinting effect. To customise the lenses and make them as similar as possible to commercially available products, the team used two dyes – one blocked the undesired wavelengths for red-green patients, while the other filtered unwanted wavelengths for yellow-blue patients, with volunteers for both groups attesting to the lenses’ efficacy.
Even though glasses based on this method are commercially available at present, they are not comfortable for wearing, nor optimizable. However, the Khalifa University research team has developed its own frames for the lenses, using 3D printing to optimize the frames for comfort and usability, making them as close as possible to regular glasses.
Dr. Haider Butt, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Khalifa University, said, “Our results showed that 3D printing had no influence on the wavelength-filtering properties of the dyes. In fact, the dyes remained unchanged as they were integrated with the resin and 3D printed. When we compared the optical performance of our glasses with commercial glasses for colour blindness, our results indicated that our 3D-printed glasses were more selective in filtering undesired wavelengths than the commercially available options. They have great potential in treating colour blindness, and their ease of fabrication and customization means they can be tailored to suit each individual patient.”
The glasses underwent several tests to address toxicity, durability, and longevity concerns. These tests included storing the glasses in water for over a week to analyze whether any dye would leak and leaving them out in the open under ambient conditions for another week. The glasses exhibited tensile strength and flexibility, proving their stability and long-lasting properties.
Khalifa University’s research outcome presents an opportunity for people with color blindness to mitigate their inability to distinguish between shades of certain colours that could restrict them from working in fields where color recognition is critical, in addition to carrying out everyday tasks. The research was funded by organizations from Abu Dhabi, including real estate developer Aldar Properties, and Sandooq Al Watan, a social initiative.
Airbus to Produce 3D-Printed Hospital Visors in Fight Against Covid-19
The majority of Airbus sites in Spain have joined forces to produce 3D printed visor frames, providing healthcare personnel with individual protection equipment in the fight against Covid-19. More than twenty 3D printers are working day and night. Hundreds of visors have already been produced and dispatched to hospitals close to the Airbus facilities in Spain. Airbus leverages a patented design to manufacture the visor frames, using PLA plastics.
“One of the reasons I love my job is the capability we have for advanced design and quick manufacture. Overnight, we have gone from making aerospace concepts to medical equipment. This genuinely makes a difference in the fight against the pandemic and I couldn’t be prouder of our teams working day and night on this Airbus project,” said Alvaro Jara, Head of Airbus Protospace, in Getafe, Madrid.
Despite the pause of the majority of production at Airbus’ sites in Spain following the Royal Decree of 29 March, Airbus employees are allowed on site to continue with this essential activity. In addition, Airbus in Germany also joined the project. The Airbus Protospace Germany and the Airbus Composite Technology Centre (CTC) in Stade, together with the 3D-printing network named “Mobility goes Additive,” are now supporting this project in Spain, also coordinating the collection and transport of visors to the Madrid region.
Emaar to Build the First 3D Printed Home in Dubai’s Arabian Ranches III
Setting a new milestone in residential property development, global real estate developer Emaar Properties has announced plans to build its first 3D printed home in Dubai. This is the first step towards Emaar’s ambition to be a leading adopter of advanced construction technologies.
Following a global competition, in which the world’s leading 3D printing technology providers participated, Emaar has awarded the contract to 3D print a model home in Arabian Ranches III. The construction will be facilitated using a local contractor with the goal of building in-country competencies in 3D printing for the property sector.
Building the first 3D printed model home underlines Emaar’s commitment to adopt innovative construction methods to build faster and at a lower cost while achieving higher design and architectural flexibility. Emaar’s use of 3D printing technology will also promote the sustainable use of resources by reducing waste of construction materials and noise pollution.
Upon completion, the 3D printed model home will serve as a reference point for investors to further understand the concept and appreciate the value add that advanced technology brings to the real estate sector. The general public can register their interest to learn more about Emaar’s 3D printed home, here or at Emaar’s sales centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said, “As the pioneer of integrated communities in Dubai and the trend-setter in the region’s property sector, our plans to embrace 3D printing of homes is an integral part of our digital-first and customer-first strategy. Through this, we are not only positioning ourselves as an early adopter of advanced technology but also creating long-term value for our customers as 3D printing brings numerous advantages such as reduced cost of construction, more efficient use of materials and higher levels of sustainability. With 3D printing technology, to be implemented locally using international expertise, we are also supporting the vision of the leadership to build ‘Smart and Sustainable Cities’ that are tech-driven and meet the aspirations of the new generation of customers. It will also help accelerate the innovation ecosystem in Dubai, inspiring start-ups to contribute towards advanced construction technology.”
With this pioneering initiative, Emaar aims to set the region’s benchmark in construction best practices as 3D printed homes bring several benefits including accelerated delivery of homes and more flexibility in design. 3D printing is also environment-friendly, with sustainable home construction techniques significantly lowering waste and noise pollution during wall construction. 3D printed homes will contribute to lower cooling costs as customers can choose the thickness and type of insulation that goes into the walls; the thicker the insulation used, the lower the cooling costs.
By embracing 3D printing, Emaar’s goal is to create a real estate landscape in the future where customers can ‘design, download and print’ their homes in the future across Emaar’s diverse portfolio of master-planned developments. As the leading developer of integrated lifestyle destinations, Emaar has delivered world-class communities such as Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches and Emirates Living and is also shaping the future of the city with iconic projects such as Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai Hills Estate, Emaar South, Emaar Beachfront, Arabian Ranches III and the recently unveiled Mina Rashid.
Arabian Ranches III, which was launched last year, has already gained overwhelming response for its residential communities that are defined by exceptional lifestyle amenities such as a central park, a 4 km long boulevard, a lazy river and a wide choice of outdoor sports facilities.
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