Skip to main content

This Shelby Cobra replica was 3D-printed from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic

The Shelby Cobra is one of the rarest and most desirable classic cars around, but what if you could just print your own copy of one?

That’s what Oak Ridge National Laboratory managed to do, building a car that looks enough like a Cobra to fool most people. Talk about Government Motors.

The facility that refined uranium for the Manhattan Project used 3D-printing technology to make a Cobra out of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic — and then added an electric powertrain. So it’s like the child of an original Cobra and a BMW i3.

The electric Cobra project was done to demonstrate Oak Ridge’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing technology, which the lab says could bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “rapid prototyping.”

Oak Ridge claims this process saves energy, and allows for crash-absorbing structures to be printed right into the bodywork of a car.

The car was actually unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show back in January, but we think it’s still worth highlighting as a decidedly cool use of an emerging technology that many believe may change the way cars are designed.

3D Shelby Cobra Print Timelapse

Designing a car, or even a single component, takes a long time. New cars are still typically modeled as full-size clay mockups, and when they go into production various dies, molds, and tools have to be setup to turn the related shapes into metal, plastic, or carbon fiber.

3D printing could cut some time from that process, making it easier for designers to make changes on the fly, or to update cars outside of the traditional four-year refresh cycle.

In addition, since it uses less material, 3D printing cuts down on waste. 3D printers are also less complex than the machines traditionally used to make car parts, which could allow for smaller factories.

While you won’t be able to buy the Oak Ridge Cobra, Local Motors is trying to put a 3D-printed electric car into production. The firm has demonstrated printing of its open-top Strati in both Chicago and Detroit.

The Strati is made from ABS plastic rather than carbon fiber, but virtually everything on it aside from the powertrain and running gear is 3D-printed. Local hopes to put the car on sale later this year, pending approval by Federal regulators.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Ceramic ink could let doctors 3D print bones directly into a patient’s body
ceramic ink 3d printed bones bioprinting australia 2

Scientists use a novel ink to 3D print ‘bone’ with living cells

The term 3D bioprinting refers to the use of 3D printing technology to fabricate biomedical parts that, eventually, could be used to create replacement organs or other body parts as required. While we’re not at that point just yet, a number of big advances have been made toward this dream over the past couple of decades.

Read more
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury trailer reveals wild new game mode
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Nintendo released a new trailer for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, which finally reveals information on the re-release's new mode. Bowser's Fury is an entirely new adventure that features a gigantic Bowser.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is a Nintendo Switch version of the 2013 Wii U game Super Mario 3D World. Nintendo previously revealed that the new edition would feature something called Bowser's Fury, but this is the first time the mode has been shown in any form.

Read more
Qualcomm’s long-awaited second-gen 3D Sonic fingerprint sensor is 50% faster
qualcomm 3d sonic sensor second generation ces 2021 2nd gen

Qualcomm wants to make its in-display fingerprint sensor a little bit more seamless. Its first-generation Sonic Sensor was introduced a few years ago, and at the time offered a decent experience -- but since then, has been overtaken in terms of speed and performance by competing optical sensors. Now, Qualcomm has finally launched a new, second-generation 3D Sonic sensor with big improvements.

The new sensor is 77% larger than Qualcomm's original 3D Sonic Sensor, measuring in at 8mm square, compared to the original's 4mm by 9mm. In other words, you'll be able to place your finger on a larger portion of the screen, making the overall experience a little more seamless.

Read more