When was the last time you thought of a printer as reliable? Think back on the most recent time that you just clicked ‘print’ on the office printer, and something just, miraculously, printed without being sent to an unexpected printer or printing the last 14 things in its queue that are someone else’s house contracts. Printers are almost obsolete, and possibly the only piece of technology made less efficient by the introduction of Wi-Fi.
However, it’s a well known fact that 3D printing is cool, and even though we don’t fully understand it, it’s definitely taking off. Every week we’re told about something new that could be 3D printed instead of just, you know, made, and we don’t know why, but it’s more exciting. This week is no different, Italian company X Electrical Vehicle revealed they are very close to mass producing 3D printed cars in China, and saying they could be on the road as early as next year.
Guo Xiaozheng, a Senior Designer at the Italian manufacturer, told the South China Morning Post: “China is the biggest market for our cars. Talks with several mainland industrial zones to set up production lines are now at a late stage.”
The vehicles are expected to go on the market for 60,000 yuan (just over £6,750), with a speed of up to 70kph and a range of 150km, so maybe it’s just one for nipping around town in.
What’s not cool though, is how it looks. A bit like a limited edition McDonald’s burger box, a bit like a Smart Car 2.0, and sort of like you could plug in a scart lead at the front. OK, you can get into tiny parking spaces, but are you going to have any mates? You’d better hope not on some level, because you can’t get more than one other person in it with you.
It is however, electric, so that’s good, and it’s… probably a positive that they’re being made in this new way? It’s efficient, with one production line being able to produce around 500 cars a year, and several lines are able to operate from the same location fairly cheaply. The whole car is 3D printed with the exception of the windows, chassis, and tyres. We’re obviously not clever enough to print rubber yet. Don’t ask us the difference between 3D printing a car and just, assembling a car, because we don’t fully know. There are fewer people involved in the new method, and the whole thing is under computer control. Is that the same as printing? Apparently so.
XEV claims it already has 7,000 orders for the new model from companies including postal services, so at least your postie might be a bit warmer in the winter months if he’s zipping round in this thing instead of in shorts through the snow.