During a joint press conference at the China 3D-Printing Cultural Museum in Shanghai, Italian based electric car manufacturer XEV and innovative 3D Printing material company Polymaker launched the first ever mass-produced 3D Printed Electric car.
“XEV is the first real mass production project using 3D printing. By saying real, I mean there are also lots of other companies using 3D printing for production. But nothing can really compare with XEV in terms of the size, the scale, and the intensity.” Dr. Luo Xiaofan, the co-founder and CEO of Polymaker.
After researching and investigating the global automotive market, XEV decided to design a small electric vehicle that can achieve C2M (Customer-to-Manufacturer) manufacturing. To fulfill this target, fast and cost-effective R&D and the ability to produce lighter-weight parts was essential.
XEV CEO, Stanley Lu had previously utilized 3D Printing for rapid prototyping and component development however R&D and manufacturing in the automotive industry was still a complicated and costly process. To meet the requirements of the LSEV, FDM 3D Printing was the only manufacturing solution and XEV collaborated with Polymaker to develop material solutions and discuss strategies to integrate FDM 3D Printing for large volume manufacturing.
As pioneers, there were many difficulties to overcome when integrating 3D Printing in large scale automotive production. Polymaker worked with XEV to successfully overcome those challenges along with developing dozens of innovative material solutions capable of withstanding the demanding mechanical requirements. The final vehicle is manufactured with 3 Polyamide based materials developed exclusively by Polymaker. FDM 3D Printed parts have a texture after printing so Polymaker also developed a series of post-processing solutions to achieve a surface finish and colour in-line with the the automotive industry.
Through 3D Printing, XEV have cut development costs by 90% and development time by 70%. XEV reduced the number of components in their car from 2,000 down to 57 to simplify assembly and all visible parts of the car aside from the chassis, seats and glass were 3D Printed in Polymakers innovative Polyamide based materials. It currently takes about 3 days for LSEV to print all the pieces of the car from the interior to the exterior and the entire vehicle weights 450kg, half the weight of similar sized vehicles. The LSEV can travel a maximum speed of 70km p/h and a travel range of 150km.
“Without Polymaker, we couldn’t make this happen. We really like our interactions with Polymaker, this can be called as know-how combination. Without this kind of interaction, we also couldn’t find the solution we have today. So, we really appreciate what Polymaker do and create for us, we are like brothers, not just strategic partners.” Stanley Lu, CEO of XEV
With a production line heavily based on 3D Printing, the initial factory investment was lowered and set up for new factories is simplified. XEV don’t require different specialized machines or dedicated factory lines as each 3D Printer is capable of making an unlimited number of components from the car door to the bumper. As volume increases, XEV believe by 2024 the estimated the total cost for their cars will be cut by half.
XEV have already received 7,000 orders from Europe, and the LSEV is estimated to sell for $7,500 or $12,299 AUD. The collaboration between XEV and Polymaker is a significant milestone for 3D Printing technologies and is a project which could inspire revolutionary changes to the automotive manufacturing industry and Kickstart the adoption of FDM 3D Printing in mainstream production.
Click here to learn more about Polymakers innovative 3D Printing materials.