With Elon Musk’s Hyperloop alpha concept finally announced last week, the speculations of if the man behind SpaceX and Tesla Motors would build a prototype of the futuristic tube travelling innovation himself have been running wild. Even though the PayPal founder has been suggesting that due to his several commitments to other projects involving space and ground travel, someone else should take the lead, he has also given some hints that he might eventually go forward with the project himself after all. The timeframe of the project is thus unconfirmed – as well as other specifics – but Musk stated that if he dedicated all of his personal time to Hyperloop, the first prototype could be achieved in a year as opposed to several, if an outsider was to take the ambitious position of leading the futuristic logistic project. On a miniature scale things don’t have to take years, fortunately – at least not with your favorite tech in the picture.
WhiteClouds is a new 3D printing company – set to launch officially on October 7th – that has decided to showcase some of its work even before actually hitting the market — and demonstrate that 3D printing can drastically shorten the time needed to build even the most intricate scaled down models. Jerry Ropelato – WhiteClouds’ CEO – and his team of five built a model of Musk’s Hyperloop in under a day. This could be considered quite a feat, especially as the said 24 hours included everything from the 3D modeling phase to finishing and assembling the printed parts.
In order to achieve this, the project team used three different 3D printers for the different parts of the model. The tube-supporting pillars were printed on an Objet Connex 500, the pathways themselves (i.e. the tubes) were printed with a ProJet 3500 HDMax and the station platforms and pods – including seats – were printed on a Zprinter 650. If you want to see how the process went in practice, the video below gives some great insight.
Even before launching – or specifying their actual operating business model in detail – it’s obvious that WhiteClouds has acquired some top of the line 3D printing systems to fulfill their venture. Therefore whether they’re planning to go the way of Shapeways or something completely different, the 3D printed objects emerging from the company’s facilities in the future could be expected to have a quality to match their 3D printing hardware. And we’ll of course get back to Whiteclouds in more detail after their launch.