Honda shows 3D-printed custom cars may be just around the corner

Honda and Kabuku recently unveiled a 3D-printed custom-designed electric vehicle for making deliveries on narrow Japanese roads.

Honda and Kabutu co-developed 3D printed delivery vehicle

Honda and Kabutu co-developed 3D printed delivery vehicle (Source: kabuku.co.jp)

Honda recently partnered with 3D-printing specialist Kabuku to build a custom delivery vehicle for a confectionery business using 3D printing technology. The inspiration was a very real need by a real customer: a delivery vehicle narrow enough to navigate roads where even Japanese kei cars won’t fit but motorcycles will — one that would also be small and distinctive enough to advertise a company’s business.

The two companies took a small electric chassis and designed a custom panel van body around it, perfect for delivery of small parcels around town. The EV chassis and drivetrain were almost the only parts of this van that were not 3D-printed; most body panels were designed from scratch to fit existing hardware, such as headlights.

Cargo area of Micro Commuter delivery vehicle

Cargo area of Micro Commuter delivery vehicle (Source: kabuku.co.jp)

The design and manufacturing process ended up being quicker and cheaper than traditional molding and required far less equipment and fewer raw materials to create. The total development process was shortened to about two months. While not a record, the goal was to create something durable for everyday use, while still offering an original vehicle with reduced time and costs.

Honda Kabuku 3D-printed delivery vehicle components

Delivery vehicle components (Source: kabuku.co.jp)

>Read more by Jay Ramey, Autoweek, October 6, 2016