Areion: The world’s first (mostly) 3D-printed electric racecar

Areion electric racecar

The sheer amount of stuff getting the 3D printer treatment has been steadily growing throughout the years. Think of something mundane or complex and chances are it’s been printed out in its entire three dimensional glory. Everything from a 3D-printed titanium jaw to 3D-printed jumping spider bots (not the death-dealing kind) have been brought to life via these ingenious devices. There was even a giant burrito building bot designed by a New York University graduate student not long ago. And while all those objects and ideas are certainly cool, they don’t get our motor running quite like the Areion, the world’s first 3D printed racecar.

Actually, mostly 3D –printed would be more accurate. Built by a group of Belgian engineering students at the International University College Leuven near Brussels, the Areion – the name of which is derived from an immortal, strong, and swift Greek mythological horse that was said to be gifted with the power of speech — is a smaller, electric racecar with body panels built entirely by a 3D-printing process and source. The group of students makes up what is called Formula Group T, which has been developing and racing alternative drivetrain vehicles since 2009.

Powering the printed Areion itself is an 85 kW motor which draws power from 50-volt lithium polymer batteries. The Areion’s electric motor is capable of producing 114 horsepower, and with its small 63-inch wheelbase and a total weight of 616 pounds, the Areion can dash from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about three seconds, with a top speed of 88 miles per hour.

As we mentioned, not all of the Areion was developed with the use of 3D-printing, just the body shell. For this, Formula Group T utilized a custom object builder from Materialise, a company that specializes in additive material development and “mammoth stereolithography” machines.  The vehicle’s steel tubular spaceframe, Double-A carbon wishbone suspension with titanium uprights, and biocomposite race seat, were all assembled via traditional methods. Still, it’s encouraging to see alternative approaches like 3D printing used in more home-grown automotive efforts.

And as if the 3D-printed body and mythological talking horse-inspired names weren’t enough, apparently the inspiration behind the Areion comes from those skin-hugging aerodynamic swimsuits Olympians wear.

[Image Credit: Formula Group T]

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