Swiss company Rinspeed unveils a bit of MetroSnap, their first prototype of the next generation of automated electric vehicles for city life.
As you may know, if we talk about MetroSnap today, it is first because additive manufacturing played a key role in its design and manufacture stages. The lucky manufacturer that has been able to prove the capabilities of his technology is Stratasys.
With over 30 interior and exterior 3D printed parts, MetroSnap has required the use of Stratasys’ FDM and PolyJet technologies. From interior consoles, display frames, plug socket fixtures and air vents, right through to the lidar screens and licence plate on the exterior, operators have been able to customize these parts in very little time.
According to Frank M. Rinderknecht, Founder of Rinspeed, “For a project such as this, where every element was newly designed and tested, and the launch timeframe is short, having an alternative to traditional manufacturing that can offer you flexibility in design and production is essential. It’s fair to say that without access to Stratasys’ technology, the customized manufacture of this vehicle would simply not have been possible.”
Rinspeed explained that the vehicle integrates a unique swapping system inspired by aviation, which sees a ‘Pod’ and ‘Skateboard’ chassis operate on split batteries. This enables the Skateboard to automatically load Pods as required, with each Pod offering a different service to the public – whether that be a taxi pick-up, parcel collection station or even a mini supermarket.
The increasing use of AM for electric vehicles
Another interesting remark is that, over the past two years, major car manufacturers have leveraged 3D printing for the manufacturing of electric vehicles: Volkswagen did it several times. However, the use of this technology becomes more trendy among small manufacturers. Uniti Sweden, ZHAW’s School of Engineering, or XEV are a few examples to name in this context. Is this trend increasingly becoming a standard in the manufacturing of electric vehicles?
As Dominik Mueller, Strategic Account Manager at Stratasys, said: “It is great to see how 3D printing can really offer value in this type of production project, significantly cutting lead times and delivering high quality customized parts.” Speaking of the MetroSnap project, he added: “Rapid development in hardware and materials across both of our core technologies have been exemplified during this project, offering the manufacturers the ability to transform the design and development process of vehicles and opening the door to even further customization in production.”
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