3D Printing

ORNL unveils 3D-printed Shelby Cobra in Detroit

ORNL unveils 3D-printed Shelby...
The Shelby Cobra replica 3D-printed by ORNL is designed as a rolling automotive laboratory (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The Shelby Cobra replica 3D-printed by ORNL is designed as a rolling automotive laboratory (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The Shelby Cobra replica 3D-printed by ORNL is designed as a rolling automotive laboratory (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The Shelby Cobra replica 3D-printed by ORNL is designed as a rolling automotive laboratory (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra took six weeks to create (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra took six weeks to create (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's cockpit (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's cockpit (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's seats (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's seats (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra infographic board (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra infographic board (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra infographic board (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra infographic board (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra badge (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra badge (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Even the headrest brackets are printed titanium (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Even the headrest brackets are printed titanium (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Designing the ORNL Shelby Cobra
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Designing the ORNL Shelby Cobra
Printing the interior frame
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Printing the interior frame
Printing the bracing
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Printing the bracing
The BAAM machine
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The BAAM machine
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's frame
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's frame
Printing the interior shell
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Printing the interior shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior shell components
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior shell components
The 3D printed supports
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The 3D printed supports
Testing the ergonomics of the ORNL Shelby Cobra
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Testing the ergonomics of the ORNL Shelby Cobra
The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra steel frame
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra steel frame
The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame and wheel assembly
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame and wheel assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra with interior shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra with interior shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra with interior shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra with interior shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaiting shell assembly
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaiting shell assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra wheel assembly
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra wheel assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra passenger monoque
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra passenger monoque
Inspecting the passenger monoque
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Inspecting the passenger monoque
Fitting the suspension
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Fitting the suspension
Fastening the wheels
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Fastening the wheels
Making torque adjustments
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Making torque adjustments
Installing brackets
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Installing brackets
Adjusting the suspension
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Adjusting the suspension
Drilling the printed frame
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Drilling the printed frame
Welding the metal components
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Welding the metal components
Installing the cooling fans
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Installing the cooling fans
The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior assembly
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior assembly
installing the axle
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installing the axle
Wiring the cooling fan assembly
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Wiring the cooling fan assembly
Marrying the steel and composite frames
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Marrying the steel and composite frames
The unfinished grille
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The unfinished grille
The unfinished shell
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The unfinished shell
Sanding the shell
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Sanding the shell
Installing the fan assembly
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Installing the fan assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's drive tain
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's drive tain
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's fan assembly
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's fan assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior framing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra interior framing
The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame detail
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame detail
The ORNL Shelby Cobra 3D-printed shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra 3D-printed shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra 3D printed frame
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra 3D printed frame
The ORNL Shelby Cobra suspension
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra suspension
The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame layers
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra frame layers
Working on the wheel assembly
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Working on the wheel assembly
The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaiting its shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaiting its shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra power wiring
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra power wiring
The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaits finishing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra awaits finishing
Polishing the shell
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Polishing the shell
Rough polishing the shell
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Rough polishing the shell
Fine polishing the finish
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Fine polishing the finish
Inspecting the finish
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Inspecting the finish
Painting the shell
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Painting the shell
Painting the shell
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Painting the shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's shell with go-faster stripes
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's shell with go-faster stripes
The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear showing paint finish
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear showing paint finish
The ORNL Shelby Cobra with oak logo
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra with oak logo
The ORNL Shelby Cobra shell being painted
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra shell being painted
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's parts took 24 hours to print
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's parts took 24 hours to print
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's shell took four hours to finish
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's shell took four hours to finish
The headrest brackets were also printed
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The headrest brackets were also printed
The ORNL Shelby Cobra has plug-and-play components
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra has plug-and-play components
The ORNL Shelby Cobra was made to celebrate the car's 50th anniversary
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra was made to celebrate the car's 50th anniversary
The ORNL Shelby Cobra top view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra top view
Assembling the undercarriage
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Assembling the undercarriage
Working on the electrics
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Working on the electrics
Fitting the wire harness
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Fitting the wire harness
Installing the wire harness
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Installing the wire harness
Fitting the aft shell
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Fitting the aft shell
Fitting the shell
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Fitting the shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra is 20 percent carbon fiber
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra is 20 percent carbon fiber
The ORNL Shelby Cobra carbon fiber detail
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra carbon fiber detail
Fitting carbon fiber mat
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Fitting carbon fiber mat
Sanding the shell
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Sanding the shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra without the outer shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra without the outer shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear lights
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear lights
The ORNL Shelby Cobra without forward shell
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra without forward shell
The ORNL Shelby Cobra being detailed
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra being detailed
The ORNL Shelby Cobra oak logot
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra oak logot
The ORNL Shelby Cobra detailing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra detailing
The ORNL Shelby Cobra detailing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra detailing
The ORNL Shelby Cobra wheel detail
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra wheel detail
The ORNL Shelby Cobra headrest
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra headrest
The ORNL Shelby Cobra has a digital display
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra has a digital display
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's oak logo
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra's oak logo
The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear view
The ORNL Shelby Cobra oblique view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra oblique view
Fitting the windscreen
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Fitting the windscreen
Fitting the turn indicators
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Fitting the turn indicators
The ORNL Shelby Cobra front view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra front view
The ORNL Shelby Cobra can be fitted with different engines
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra can be fitted with different engines
The ORNL Shelby Cobra showing clearance
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra showing clearance
The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra rear view
The ORNL Shelby Cobra top view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra top view
The ORNL Shelby Cobra cockpit
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra cockpit
The ORNL Shelby Cobra badge
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra badge
The ORNL Shelby Cobra front oblique view
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra front oblique view
The ORNL Shelby Cobra is on display at the Detroit Auto Show
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra is on display at the Detroit Auto Show
The ORNL Shelby Cobra was finished by TruDesign
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra was finished by TruDesign
The ORNL Shelby Cobra headlamps
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra headlamps
The ORNL Shelby Cobra
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra
President Obama and Vice President Biden with the ORNL Shelby Cobra
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President Obama and Vice President Biden with the ORNL Shelby Cobra
The ORNL Shelby Cobra at VIP viewing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra at VIP viewing
Vice President Biden inspects the Cobra
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Vice President Biden inspects the Cobra
The ORNL Shelby Cobra at its VIP viewing
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra at its VIP viewing
Vice President Biden inspects the seating
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Vice President Biden inspects the seating
The ORNL Shelby Cobra features
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The ORNL Shelby Cobra features

It stands to reason that if you had a big enough 3D printer, one of the first things you might do is print a replica of a vintage 1965 Shelby Cobra sportscar, and that's what the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) did for the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The result of a project that took only six weeks from conception to finished product, the vehicle not only celebrates the Shelby Cobra's 50th anniversary, but also acts as a demonstration of modern additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping technology.

From the outside, the 1,400-lb (635-kg) ORNL Cobra looks like a well-made Shelby replica with an updated digital display, but it hides 500 lb (228 kg) of 3D-printed parts made of 20 percent carbon fiber. These make up the shell, the support frame, the passenger monocoque,and the grille. Even the headrest brackets are 3D-printed.

The car was built at the US Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated. ORNL says that this device can print objects larger than a cubic meter (35 cubic ft) in volume 500 to 1,000 times faster than current industrial additive printers.

The ORNL Shelby Cobra's cockpit (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra's cockpit (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

According to ORNL, the entire process for building the car took only six weeks from first to last, including 24 hours to print the Cobra's parts, 8 hours to print the tooling components, and 4 hours to machine the bodywork by the Knoxville-based TruDesign, who gave the car a Class A automotive finish.

The purpose of the 3D-printed Shelby isn't just to show that there's more than one way to make a car. ORNL also see the new vehicle as a rolling laboratory for testing automotive technology, where new power plants, fuel cells, electronics, and other systems can be installed using a plug-and-play format.

In addition, the team sees 3D printing as a way for car designers to move on from the current design process of drawings, CAD renderings, scale clay models, concepts, and prototypes in favor of the ability to go straight to a working vehicle that can be created in a very short time.

The ORNL Shelby Cobra took six weeks to create (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The ORNL Shelby Cobra took six weeks to create (Image: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

"You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks," says Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. "You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed. There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation."

The 3D-printed Shelby is on display at ORNL's booth at NAIAS as part of the Technology Showcase.

The video below discusses the building of the 3D-printed Shelby.

Source: ORNL

3D Printed Shelby Cobra

11 comments
Robert Walther
Wow! Those printed tires look as good as Michelins from the factory. The speed at which that 3d printer moves is unbelievable. Amazing magic. I wonder how fast they can print gold or even people?
Anonymous756
3D Printing certain *parts* is not the same thing as 3D Printing an entire item, such as a "3D-printed Shelby Cobra". The language is very sloppy. Sloppy to the point of simply being incorrect. "You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks." No you can't.
StWils
I want the files!! Screw printing my own AR15 or M16 receiver, I want a Shelby I can customize!
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. I think it would not only be good for concept vehicles but also custom vehicles or one-off vehicles. I think 3D printing has a big future.
jerryd
So much bull in this. It was made by the machine that craved it from the raw printed pieces. At 500lbs that is 2x's weight as much as those parts made in medium tech composites. Resin with 20% CF is no better than 20% FG. CF for 90% of what it is used for is hype. it in fact takes more labor than I do building one from scratch with normal composite tech. And ,mine will be 3x' stronger at 50% of the weight.
DavidB
In the entire article there's not a single mention of the most exciting thing about this project: AN ELECTRIC COBRA. (One of the 97 photos is of a brochure, which mentions "batteries with extended range.")
MichaelG
Our tax dollars at work, I'm not impressed.
Martin Hone
Love it ! Interesting that amongst all that hi-tec stuff was a very basic hand lay up of the carbonfibre hood.....
Stephen N Russell
Mass produce this, awesome, now anyone can have a Shelby orig in garage, awesome
CAPNGEOFF
Oh what a disappointment ! Naively I believed the (usually fairly accurate) Gizmag feature headline, and took the time to watch and listen to the video. The ACTUAL truth is that these guys made a FEW bits of a Cobra, ( poorly executed body mouldings which could have been done easily & BETTER by any GRP or composite method) then spent hundreds of hours and money making it look acceptable, whilst bolting on hundreds of components sourced from scores of REAL manufacturers elsewhere. Goodness me, a dugout canoe made by "primitive" native labourers is more high-tech than this. AND a dugout is truly energy efficient. This feature makes one even less trusting of press blurb . Can't you guys vet the blurb a bit more? Your Gizmag articles are usually fairly interesting and truthful. Hoping to hear about more great stuff in Gizmag, but accurately, please.