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Honda reveals first 3D-printed electric vehicle

By raccars Published


Innovative results of a collaboration between Honda and the Kabuku tech company are unveiled.

Honda is driving forward the idea of car customisation thanks to a collaboration with tech company Kabuku and a 3D-printed EV. CEATEC, the largest consumer electronics show in Japan, was chosen to showcase the first 3D-printed electric vehicle, known as the Micro Commuter. The vast majority of its visual panels came from a Stratsys printer and the process took a whole month of continuous printing to complete.

The design of this highly-publicised car was aimed at the Toshimaya cookie business and it took two months to create the look, complete with a bird-based theme to give a nod to the company’s well-known bird-shaped cookies. The Micro Commuter has also been fitted with cookie-friendly features such as tie-down spots and slide-out tray but Honda claims that the Micro Commuter’s flexibility means that it can be tailor-made to suit a vast array of different businesses.

Customisable for a range of enterprises

Honda has been showing off a variety of conceptual ways in which the Micro Commuter’s flexible base can be adapted, including a car for use by a roasting company, which comes complete with a coffee cart which can be removed at the rear; and a fish delivery vehicle shaped like a fish.

Looking at the Micro Commuter as a car rather than a design vehicle, meanwhile, reveals that it has a range of around 50 miles and that it uses three different battery packs to provide its power. The largest pack is part of the car’s floor but an extra ten miles’ range is offered by two packs which slot in beside the driver’s seat - the only seat in the car. The idea is that the two removable packs can be taken inside and charged quickly to provide enough power to get the driver home if necessary.

Honda says that its Micro Commuter cookie car will begin delivery in the spring, and more customised models look set to follow. There is even the potential for customers to submit their own shapes for production - although this may be some way off.

Cost-effective Honda EV production

The 3D car is part of a collaboration between Honda and the tech company Kabuku. Both firms claim that the type of 3D printing process used lowers the time and cost of production, making it ideal to for mass production.

The car is a similar size to a Renault Twizy and the design and layout is not vastly different, although the back passenger seat found in the Renault has been replaced by the Micro Commuter’s cargo area, ideal for cookies or a wide variety of different goods.

The Micro Commuter makes use of a lightweight framework in order to keep its weight down and a large proportion of its bodywork is created using 3D printing. It is set up like a micro-van with a compact EV architecture, making it an obvious choice in the future for local courier companies who want a customisable vehicle to combine design elements and practicality.

The continuing success of Kabuku

The Kabuku company hit the headlines last year after raising more than $6 million of funding to pay for a global expansion project. The start-up explores innovative ways in which 3D printing can be used and runs an online marketplace called Rinkak, which allows makers to upload 3D printed designs to sell directly to consumers.

So far Kabuku’s initiatives have featured an Open Road Project, which saw it partnering to come up with customised components to be used in Toyota’s i-Road vehicles, and a project to create interchangeable parts suitable for use in Olympus Air cameras.

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