A few years ago, a novelty started showing up at auto shows alongside the newest concept cars. While these creations were not for sale and would not be mass-produced, they did show a future where transportation could be affordable and accessible. We’re of course talking about 3D-printed cars.
In the early 1980s, the first technology that would contribute to 3D printing came about in Japan, although it wasn’t until 2013 that two NASA employees made the first prototype of a large-format, affordable 3D printer called Gigabot.
Since then, plenty of things have been 3D printed, including artificial limbs, eyeglass frames, and toys. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that the next logical step for those “go big or go home” types out there was to 3D print something large, intricate and functional - like a car. Here are some of the ugliest 3D printed cars ever made.
The WiGO is a 3D printed autonomous car from DigiRobotics. They say it has "advanced sensors to give passengers a comfortable ride and everything they need to get a personalized experience." Ok then. We hope their customers don't care about the exterior - because this thing looks like it belongs in the trash.
19 The PUV
This 3D printed Jeep wannabe has body panels that are 3D printed in carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. It's part of a project to make a vehicle able to wirelessly transfer electrical power to the building next to it and vice versa. That's all great stuff. However, the design leaves a lot to be desired... and that's putting it mildly.
18 Iron Warrior Eco Car
This is a student-built entry for the Shell Eco-Marathon. What they managed to achieve with this lightweight car is actually very impressive - it's so fuel-efficient, it covered 640 km on just one liter of fuel. Too bad it's not very user-friendly, and its looks are rather questionable. It's a one-trick pony, and not a very good looking one at that.
17 NTU Venture 8
The Nanyang Venture 8 is an ambitious student project from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Singapore’s first 3D printed solar electric car features over 150 3D printed parts, including the instrument cluster, various grilles, door latches as well as the outer shell. Additionally, it features a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic chassis. Too bad it looks like it belongs in some futuristic Japanese anime.
16 Toyota uBox
This concept utility car was developed by Toyota and Clemson University’s International Centre for Automotive Research. Supposedly, the 3D printed parts will make the car highly customizable, which is great for customers. What we don't get is why did they have to make it so ugly? Isn't it possible to make a good looking car that's also practical and customizable?
Local Motors created the world’s first 3D printed electric car. The Strati made headlines at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago after being 3D printed, assembled, and road-tested in just six days. However, the two-seater only has a top speed of 40mph and a range of 120 miles, which doesn't match its looks at all. It's like the ricer of 3D printed cars!
The Chinese, not to be outdone by companies like Local Motors, saw the Strati and jumped at the opportunity of making their first 3D printed car. It took five days to print the 500 kg car, and it was built at a cost of just 11,000 yuan ($1,700). It consists mostly of Tyrant Gold plastic filament, hence its disgusting appearance.
13 Shell Project M
The partially 3D printed Project M concept car is a rethink of the T.25 car, a concept designed by legendary British car designer Gordon Murray back in 2010. Seeing as it looks like a baby's shoe, we're happy to announce Shell has no plans to put the Project M into production.
The Urbee project seems to have run out of steam over the last couple of years, but the three-wheeled car/motorcycle hybrid was the first largely 3D printed car on record. Its successor, the Urbee 2 project was announced on April 2013. Zero updates later, it seems Urbee has been completely abandoned. We'll never know if Urbee 2 looked better than this one, but it would be challenging to make it look worse.
11 StreetScooter C16
Designed, built, and tested in one year, the StreetScooter C16 car uses a number of 3D printed components, both external and internal. Since it's not the most aesthetically pleasing car we've ever laid eyes on, we'd be lying if we said we're heartbroken that the C16 will never see production.
Local Motors will use 75% 3D printed components, including nearly all of the body panels and chassis when making the LM3D These parts will be made from a blend of 80% ABS and 20% carbon fiber. With all the possibilities this technology has, you'd think they'd be capable of producing good-looking cars? Clearly, that's not the case!
We're not gonna lie, the LSEV truly is a game-changer. At the low low price of $7,500, it really appears to be an affordable electric 3D printed car. It weighs only 450 kg, has a 90-mile range, a top speed of 43 mph, and only takes 3 days to 3D print. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to make it look good as well. Better luck next time.
A Prague startup created a prototype for a 3D printed, all-electric city car which can travel as far as 124 miles on a full charge. It can transport two people and has a maximum speed of 34 mph. Apparently, they were running low on funds when they hired a six-year-old to head the design department.
7 Honda Micro Commuter
Honda is using 3D printing to make highly customizable vehicles to suit the particular needs of individual customers. The all-electric Micro Commuter car with a body made of 3D printed panels that took nearly a month to print. Luckily, this is a one-off, built specifically for the Toshimaya cookie company. Hopefully, other designs for the little Honda will be more tastefully done.
6 Solar Voyager
Ok, so this thing is actually pretty impressive. It was built in part using recycled plastic waste that was melted and fed to 3D printers, and it's powered by the sun - the Solar Voyager was built to travel the geographical South Pole. That's cool. There's no denying it's not the prettiest car we've seen though.
Technically a bus and not a car, we still had to include the autonomous, self-driving, 3D printed Olli from Local Motors. The vehicle uses a number of 3D printed components, contributing to its compact and lightweight design. It's also really ugly. Luckily, we've got cars, so we'll never have to get on this bus-thingy.
4 Smart Shuttle
If you thought the previous shuttle was ugly, check out this one. New Zealand's first self-driving smart shuttle is like a minibus and it can carry up to 15 adults. The vehicle's parts have been 3D printed and it recently went for its first public trial at the Christchurch airport. We won't be traveling there anytime soon!
Aeroblade uses structures held vertically to support outer surfaces. This multi-layered design helps overcome 3D printing’s difficulty in bridging horizontal gaps, and when we're talking about something the size of a car, that's quite a challenge. However, that's also what we don't like about this car - it just doesn't look right from some angles. While the concept is cool, we'll wait a few years until they've perfected it.
2 Daihatsu Copen
The Daihatsu Copen is only partially 3D printed, it's just too bad that the printed parts are the worst thing about the whole car. Daihatsu decided to create the "Effect Skins," the idea is to allow customers to customize many different aspects of their vehicles so no two cars will be the same. Awesome concept - except, it looks terrible! This is why people buy aftermarket parts!
1 Liquid Metal Printed Ford Torino
The creator’s source of inspiration was a 1971 Ford Torino reinterpreted with a rather polarizing design. Someone did appreciate the peculiar styling by agreeing to pay $5,500 to own it. It was made by an industrial-size 3D printer and is a fusion of liquid metal and nano- and ultra-light materials. Whatever it is, it's absolutely disgusting and we don't want to look at it!
Sources: Motor1, 3ders.org, All3DP.com, 3DNatives.com