Give some students a 3D-printer, some solar panels and about a year's worth of time, and what do you get? No, not a solar-powered bong (though good idea) -- solar race cars, that's what! Engineering students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have built 3D-printed solar electric car prototype, the NTU Venture 8 (NV8), and plan to race it in Shell's Eco Marathon Asia event later this month. The team was originally looking at a supercar design, but decided to go with "a sensible cute micro-car with vertical opening doors" that can run at up to 60 km/h (37 mph).
The students said that the vehicle "is Singapore's first and probably Asia's first 3D-printed concept car," with the cockpit fabricated from 150 lighweight plastic parts. The design maximizes interior space thanks to a strong honeycomb design, and its slightly translucent skin "is a sight to behold," according to the team. The NV8 was printed in part at NTU's recently opened $5 million Additive Manufacturing Center, built to allow students and staff to pursue 3D-printing research projects.
While the NV8 will run in the "urban concept" category, the team also developed a carbon fiber three-wheeler to race for the prestigious prototype prize. They went for broke on that design, making the vehicles as cutting-edge as possible using hand-made, curved solar panels and a leaning function to allow for quick cornering -- not unlike Toyota's iRoad EV concept.