ORNL Researchers Unveil 3D-Printed Shelby Car at 2015 Detroit Auto Show

This Shelby Cobra sports car, 3D-printed at Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will be on display this week at the Detroit Auto Show Technology Showcase.

Researchers from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new 3D-printed vehicle as a tribute to the classic Shelby Cobra during its 50th anniversary celebration at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 3D printed Shelby will be available on display in the show's Technology Showcase, between January 12 and 15.

The Shelby car was printed at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, with the help of the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine. The machine is capable of manufacturing strong, lightweight composite components of over one cubic meter. The vehicle weighs nearly 1400lbsand consists of 500lbs printed parts made of 20%carbon fiber.

BAAM machine's smaller print bead size is one of the recent developments which led to the manufacture of printed pieces with smooth surface finish. Following this, the Class A finish provided by Knoxville-based TruDesign on the completed Shelby resulted in a classic model.

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.

Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group

The total man hours taken by the team to design, manufacture and assemble Shelby in six weeks inclusive of print time of 24h. When compared to the existing industrial additive machines, this new BAAM machine resulted from the joint effort by Cincinnati Incorporated and ORNL is capable of printing components at a faster rate by 500 to 1000 times.

You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks. You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed. There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.

Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group

As a result of the collaboration of ORNL and Local Motors, the Shelby project led to the successful execution of a fully 3D printed vehicle, Strati.

ORNL's transportation and manufacturing researchers have plans to employ the 3D-printed Shelby as a laboratory on wheels. The car manufactured with system components such as wireless charging systems, power electronics, hybrid system designs, and battery and fuel cell technologies, enables the researchers to rapidly test new concepts.

The booth at ORNL facilitates research and development activities in vehicle and manufacturing technologies such as connected vehicles, printed power electronics, composite tooling and energy absorption. The project was supported by the ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.


Stuart Milne

Written by

Stuart Milne

Stuart graduated from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with a first-class honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After working on a start-up company involved in LED Lighting solutions, Stuart decided to take an opportunity with AZoNetwork. Over the past five years at AZoNetwork, Stuart has been involved in developing an industry leading range of products, enhancing client experience and improving internal systems designed to deliver significant value for clients hard earned marketing dollars. In his spare time Stuart likes to continue his love for art and design by creating art work and continuing his love for sketching. In the future Stuart, would like to continue his love for travel and explore new and exciting places.


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