Students Use 3D Printing and Carbon Fibre to Create Solar Vehicles

Mounted on a carbon fibre single shell chassis, the NTU Venture (NV) 8 will race in the Urban Concept category at this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Asia.

University students have also built the NTU Venture (NV) 9, a slick three-wheeled racer which can take sharp corners with little loss in speed due to its unique tilting ability inspired by motorcycle racing.​ The car also features hand-made silicon solar cells and will be NTU’s entry in the Prototype category at the Shell Eco-marathon Asia which will take place in Manila from 26 Feb to 1 March.

Designed from scratch by University undergraduates and built over a year, these two Eco-cars will aim to attain the highest fuel efficiency. Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah, who mentored the two teams, said the students had taken a leap of faith and decided to go with disruptive innovations instead of making improvements over the previous versions.

For the 3D-printed NV8 the students went with a 3D-printed cabin made from lightweight plastic to maximise the internal space and driver’s comfort. The car can reach a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour whilst still maintaining low energy consumption.

The NV9 takes its inspiration from the way motorbike racers lean left or right during sharp turns to maintain their handling and speed. The cars streamlined design makes it a fusion of a F1 car and a glider plane with its all surround canopy for increased visual awareness.

With as many as 150 parts that had to be 3D-printed, the students collaborated with various NTU schools and research centres, as well as sponsors and institutions such as Stratasys, Creatz3D and The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).

For the NV8 the team had to bring together the parts from various 3D printers at both the University and other sponsor companies. The printing and assembly took the team three months’ worth of effort.

For it to be lightweight, thin and yet strong, the team integrated a honeycomb structure and a unique joint design to hold the parts together. When seen against the light, the structure has a translucent see-through effect, like a dragonfly wing.