To celebrate the iconic Cobra’s 50th anniversary researchers printed the car using the facilities Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, which can manufacture strong, lightweight composite parts in sizes greater than one cubic metre. The approximately 1400-pound vehicle contains 500 pounds of printed parts made of 20% carbon fibre.
Recent improvements to ORNL’s BAAM machine include a smaller print bead size, resulting in a smoother surface finish on the printed pieces. Subsequent work by Knoxville-based TruDesign produced a Class A automotive finish on the completed Shelby.
Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group said;
Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing as an innovative and viable manufacturing technology, 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.
The lab’s manufacturing and transportation researchers plan to use the 3-D printed Shelby as a laboratory on wheels. The car is designed to “plug and play” components such as battery and fuel cell technologies, hybrid system designs, power electronics, and wireless charging systems, allowing researchers to easily and quickly test out new ideas.