The Shell Eco-marathon is an annual competition that aims to challenge student teams to develop, build and test ultra-efficient cars. This year the Zuyd University of Applied Sciences is participating with a car for which 3D printing technology has been used in the production process. European best selling home 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker has been supporting the Zuyd University team with ten Ultimaker Original 3D printers to power a proficient, potent and pronto production process. Shell has chosen this project of Zuyd University as the Eco-marathon’s ‘top story.’
The Eco-marathon is a unique competition, which brings together roughly two hundred teams and some three thousands students from right across the European continent to battle it out in the name of ultra energy efficiency on the road. On one hand it is a facilitation event that acts as an adjuvant to place the pressing need of a mindset for creating solutions to the ecological consideration within the apperception of design students – the industry leaders of tomorrow. On the other the event is a promotional opportunity for Shell, such as the Shell Energy Lab, which promises to be packed with innovation for the energy sector of the future.
This will be the fifth time that the Zuyd University has participated in the Shell Eco-marathon, but this will be the very first time that 3D printing technology is empowering the production process. It is not an additive manufacturing device that will set you back tens of thousands of euros either. In this case it is a desktop 3D printer that is being utilised to manufacture car parts – and not just prototypes either. The Ultimaker Originals have been hard at work churning out parts such as the dashboard, the steering wheel, the mirror fittings and various handles.
As if that wasn’t an impressive enough indication that prosumer printers with three dimensions are now firmly in the mindset of future product creators across the world, some two hundred and twenty moulds have been printed to manufacture the carbon fibre parts for the body of this vehicle.
Professor Rob van Loevezijn of Zuyd University’s Faculty of Beta Sciences and Technology stated: “The main goal is to make a car that is as sustainable as possible, and the energy consumption must be as low as possible. 3D printing has been chosen because this technology is budget and environmentally friendly. The PLA plastics used in the 3D printer are environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Making the moulds with a 3D printer is also a lot faster than making the traditional wooden moulds.”
This year, the Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2014 will take place from 15-18 May in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.