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3D Printing An Entire Car

Is it possible to use 3D printing, rather than elaborate manufacturing, to print an entire automobile? Specialty auto repair shops now scan entire classic cars for reference, and then print parts as needed for real cars.

"We have had customers who basically have what would be considered a priceless vehicle," says David Kettner of Fused Innovation, the 3D printing subsidiary of famed classic restoration shop Motion Products Inc., in Neenah, Wis. "We can laser scan their entire vehicle as an insurance policy in case of damage."

And if the car is crashed subsequently? "We can bring it back to its original construction," said Kettner. "We've had to do it already."

A scanned car reproduced by 3D printing techniques… would reproduce all of the original's idiosyncrasies and imperfections. "We can re-create the actual component with all the flaws that were built into it the first time," Kettner says.

Fans of Philip K. Dick know about the Biltong life forms from his 1956 short story Pay for the Printer. These strange creatures from the Centaurus system could make a duplicate of a reference object placed before them.

The Biltongs are perhaps the earliest example of the idea that it would be possible to make copies of three-dimensional objects directly, without manufacturing. Even cars.

"Can your Biltong print for more than a hundred people?" John Dawes asked softly.

"Right now he can," Fergesson answered. He proudly indicated his Buick. "You rode in it - you know how good it is. Almost as good as the original it was printed from…"

Via Popular Mechanics; learn more about Philip K. Dick's Biltongs.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/26/2013)

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