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						Oak Ridge National Laboratory 3 D Printed Shelby Cobra 2
Printed Cobra

3D Printed Cobra

Building on the Strati, a running, fully 3-D printed vehicle completed in the lobby of the 2014 SEMA show by Local Motors, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) pays homage to the classic Shelby Cobra. Researchers printed this Cobra replica at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, which can manufacture strong, lightweight composite parts in sizes greater than one cubic meter. The approximately 1400-pound vehicle contains 500 pounds of printed parts made of 20 percent carbon fiber. 

“Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing as an innovative and viable manufacturing technology,” said Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. “We want to improve digital manufacturing solutions for the automotive industry.”

The team took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby, including 24 hours of print time. The new BAAM system, jointly developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated, can print components 500 to 1000 times faster than today’s industrial additive machines. ORNL researchers say the speed of next-generation additive manufacturing offers new opportunities for the automotive industry, especially in prototyping vehicles.

“You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks,” Love said. “You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed. There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.”        On the vehicle shown here, the drivetrain is a 100kw electric motor, with suspension parts from a Cadillac in the rear, and aftermarket Mustang in the front. As such, the performance is still a ways off from an original Shelby: 0 to 60 mph in approximately five seconds, 75 mph top speed, and a 30-mile range. So it’s more of a test bed at this point, as ORNL plans to use the car to explore new drivetrains, power supplies and controls, enabling a working automotive laboratory for a very low cost.

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3-D Printing Cobra