In 2018, around 95.6 million cars were produced worldwide. More and more of them are energy-saving and environmentally friendly cars, whose record number on the global market in the second quarter of 2019 was provided by American Tesla. New technologies are often helpful in their creation, such as 3D printing used by Polish Opel factories. It allows you to produce appropriately light and strong parts, which are the basis of electric cars. Polish students also contribute to this kind of development of the automotive industry. 3D printed elements are also used as components of the latest electric car AGH Racing – RTE 2.0 “LEM”, presented to the world on 11 July 2019.
Electric cars (almost) from a 3D printer
Either way, Poland is ranked fourteenth in the volume of sales of electric cars in the European Union. However, the Polish contribution to the development of this part of the automotive industry is growing. Polish companies more and more often launch technological innovations supporting the production of electric cars, including solutions in the field of 3D printing.
Interestingly, the technology of additive manufacturing is no longer used in the global automotive industry only to prototype and manufacture parts, but also to build almost entire cars. Almost, because 3D printing has been used in their production on a really large scale. We are talking here about printing the Urbee car body, printing with carbon fibre of the car body or the dashboard of the Strati car or the entire chassis for the Blade model.
3D printing has great power and allows you to achieve effects that would be impossible using classic manufacturing methods. Car components manufactured using the FDM technology are lighter, which reduces the vehicle weight, improves performance and reduces energy consumption.
Mateusz Sidorowicz, marketing director, 3DGence
Students of Polish technical universities ― ready, steady, go
Although still few Poles buy electric cars ― their sales account for less than 0.45 per cent of the total sales of new passenger cars in Poland ― many of them take an interest in the development of this market. Companies are aware that the popularity of electric cars may be affected by technological changes (apart from public subsidies that are an obvious factor to everyone). These technological changes will increase the range of electric cars and their price will start to become acceptable to today’s users of internal combustion engine cars.
Students of Polish technical universities are working intensely on solutions that can change the electric car manufacturing process. Young specialists organised as AGH Racing, which has been very active for many years at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków presented their RTE 2.0 “LEM” electric car on 11 July 2019. Their work on building this modern vehicle was supported by a 3DGence professional 3D printer.
The latest technical solutions available on the market, including 3D printing, were used to build the car. Thus the battery pack housing was printed from non-combustible material using the 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 device. Additionally, by using this 3D printer we could create other necessary parts and models, including the moulds for aerodynamic parts, so we could make the necessary car components ourselves.
Gaweł Bartosik, Project Manager, AGH Racing.
The AGH Racing electric open-wheel car
RTE 2.0 “LEM” is the sixth machine designed by the AGH team, but the second with an electric drive. Compared to last year’s design, the electronic system has also been enhanced by the addition of tyre temperature sensors and brake discs. The 3D printer was also used to print a prototype of a steering knuckle for a combustion engine open-wheel car.
The new steering knuckle prototype was presented to the judges at the international FSAE Michigan competition. Using 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 enabled us to test our original design at a very low cost and in just two days. The steering knuckle was printed from ABS model material and ESM-10 soluble support material. 3D printing helped us to verify project assumptions and avoid costly improvements using another technology (SLS printing can cost up to € 20,000).
3D printing supports the development of more than just the electric car market.
A lot is happening in this area in the motorcycle industry. This year the first 3D printed motorcycle model was created in Poland, which is expected to hit the streets soon. Students of the Scientific Club POLSL Racing of the Silesian University of Technology are also working intensely on electric motorcycles. While designing an electric motorcycle to compete in the Wrocław SmartMoto Challenge, students focused not only on the technical aspects of the vehicle, but also on its appearance. They created a modern visual concept that meets the requirements of the contemporary design. And they chose 3D printing technology to implement this project.
Electromobility is the future of the automotive industry. Just like the 3D printing technology. Combining these two trends to manufacture state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective cars seems to be the natural course of development that will allow us to replace internal combustion engine cars by electric cars faster than we tend to think today.