Why not 3D print a "Tesla People's Car"

Why not 3D print a "Tesla People's Car"

Can you imagine what it would be like to access this Tesla website, select a Tesla model (any body configuration from the classic Tesla roadster, Model S, Model X or any future configuration), ANY exterior or interior color , buy it and have a have it the next day? What about having a vehicle that is as safe as the Tesla Model S, but at half the weight and one fifth the price, with virtually indestructible body panels and glass and, on properly equipped roads, unlimited mileage? It is already possible, using existing or emerging technology.

Practically any material can be 3D printed,including metals. It should be possible to create a 3D printer that could print the entire vehicle, including the tires and glass. The weight reduction would allow for a smaller electric motor and supercapacitors integrated into the body panels would drastically reduce charging times as well as electric storage costs. Interior fabrics could be made from hemp cloth, exterior panels from hemp plastic (Henry Ford slammed a sledge hammer into a hemp plastic concept car in 1940, without leaving a mark). Hemp can be dyed to virtually any color. Gorilla glass is virtually unbreakable. A 3D printer, plus enclosure could likely fit into a two car garage. About the only hazardous waste would probably fit into an enclosure the size of a car battery, waste management and environmental impact would be negligible. Given the demand for such low cost, high capability vehicles, small printer facilities could be placed even in small towns. However, an auto-drive system would even make that unnecessary. Now, possibly, the best part. Using induction power transmission, the vehicle could be charged wirelessly, even while it is being driven. Induction systems for municipal buses are already in operation in Germany, South Korea and several other countries. These big buses receive a small charge at every passenger stop.

Mr. Elon Musk, you could probably develop an entire line of vehicles for a fraction of the cost of development of the original Tesla roadster. What do you think? In fact, what does everyone who reads this post think? Your comments, including valid criticisms would be appreciated.

jackhub | 24 ottobre 2013

I would not be surprised if some of the parts are produced with 3D printing. Elon has said they are looking at 3d printing, or additive manufacturing as some call it.

Dramsey | 24 ottobre 2013

I think that industrial scale 3D printing isn't here yet, and likely won't be for some time.

3D printers can immensely speed up prototyping, since it's faster to print a part than to send it out to be machined, or to make a mold, etc. But for production, well...have you ever actually seen a typical 3D printer? "Slow" is an accurate description. "Really slow" in the case of consumer models, and even the relatively high-end stuff isn't that fast.

The basic problem is that to produce high-resolution parts, you need to print very fine layers...which means it takes many, many layers to build up what you're printing.

Robert Fallin | 24 ottobre 2013

Thanks for your comment. You are right, the technology is not there...yet. You did point out the biggest single obstacle and inspired me as to something I did not factor, i.e., drying times for layers of dissimilar materials. This may mean that all parts could be printed, but that the vehicle would then still have to be assembled by robots.greatly increasing assembly times and space requirements. However, no one will really know until it is tried, and it still seems to me a challenge worth taking, since all the other aspects affecting the cost of manufacture are greatly reduced. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your observations.

grega | 24 ottobre 2013

Perhaps improving 3D printing is something Elon is working on for Mars spare parts. (Can Mars mine the printer toner though!)

just an allusion | 24 ottobre 2013

I think that there would be issues with quality control in material, composition, dimensioning and tolerancing, that would impact the geometry as consumers might be inclined to use the least expensive materials possible to save on expenses (since this idea apparently originates from a frugal perspective), and that's even if the exacting parameters of the Tesla models were reliably transferable across the Interwebs to the 3D printing device of the consumers' choice.

All of which likely resulting in a sub-par product that would be prone to defects and, inevitably, failure that would, reciprocally, reflect negatively on Tesla itself, and that's not even taking into consideration issues of copyright/patent infringement.

Ultimately, even if our technology were advanced to the point where such an undertaking were possible, it would still be inadvisable for a number of reasons, including those mentioned above.

Brian H | 24 ottobre 2013

Printers can be big. Print your own building:

Lots of articles.

Robert Fallin | 24 ottobre 2013

Just an allusion, I must not have made myself clear. The vehicles would still be produced by Tesla, using materials inspected and approved and inspected by Tesla's quality group. The ordering process would be the same as that at present and quality standards should be just as exacting, more so than would be possible when Tesla expands to multiple manufacturing facilities. After all, the same Quality team could monitor, via remote ultra-high definition monitoring, the output of each facility. If the programming algorithms are written correctly, adjustments could be made remotely to the 3D printers to compensate for changes in environment or minute variations in 3D printer and material parameters.

Brian H, I agree, printers can be huge. However, a 3D designed to print a car, SUV, crossover, van or light truck would likely easily fit within the dimensions I suggested. However, any robots required for final assembly might not.

Robert Fallin | 24 ottobre 2013

Again, thank you, everyone who has contributed to this concept. Please continue, as the more ideas and criticism we address the more likely this will actually come to fruition.

I sincerely believe it would be wonderful if everyone who wanted one could drive a Tesla, as long as Tesla maintains the high standards the Model S has presently achieved. Were I doing this for personal gain, I certainly would not post it on a public forum.

just an allusion | 24 ottobre 2013

"...when Tesla expands to multiple manufacturing facilities."

Mr. Fallin,

Perhaps you've heard of something which I've yet been privy to and that has led to this little misunderstanding?

Otherwise, I find it a bit pretentious to assume that Tesla has plans on 'expanding to multiple manufacturing facilities' when all I've ever heard is their intent to expand their manufacturing at the NUMMI factory in Fremont (once a joint venture between GM and Toyota) in order to turn out more ordered models to increase the nationwide self-distribution to customers...Have you heard something otherwise?

Timo | 24 ottobre 2013

3D printing for "clay model".

Brian H | 24 ottobre 2013

Various rumors are about, such as a factory in Europe, or one in Texas for pickups, and one for the Chinese market. While the ex-Nummi factory might ramp up to 500K/yr with additional lines, Elon is thinking bigger than that, partly due to the slowness of the majors to move the EV ball.

Timo | 24 ottobre 2013

When does Elon think small? We are talking about person that talks about putting man into Mars.

Robert Fallin | 25 ottobre 2013

Thanks for your explanation, Brian. Timo, I have been following Tesla Motors since the the first Tesla Roadster prototype; and, I assure you, additional facilities were discussed at that time. Given the roaring success of the Tesla Model S, whether or not this is official or simply the musings of Elon Musk in 2007 is moot.

Timo | 25 ottobre 2013

That was not statement of disbelief, just opposite. I mean if person says that he puts man into Mars and is actually doing something about it then thinking about (and planning) multiple factories for Tesla would be him micromanaging things ;-).

I'm having hard time choosing which "project" I like more: SpaceX or Tesla.

Robert Fallin | 25 ottobre 2013

I just wish he would abandon his "hyperloop" concept and get aboard the Evacuated Tube Transport bandwagon ( ET3 is faster (up to 4,000 mph), cheaper and could connect all of the populated continents of the world. If he did back ET3, THAT would be my "favorite" project. In fact, I am a licensee, but have been quite discouraged by management's lack of aggressiveness in promoting the project.

Timo | 25 ottobre 2013

Hyperloop and ET3 are not actually competing against each other. Hyperloop point was to make "too short for planes, too long for cars" distances manageable. More like subway than train, only a lot faster.

I'm not that sure about price, hyperloop sounds quite cheap to build and maintain.

Robert Fallin | 25 ottobre 2013

Check out the ET3 website, Timo. ET3 uses "minivan" size autonomous capsules inside tubes narrow enough to fit in the median of any divided highway, traveling via magnetic levitation inside a vacuum tube, thus offering zero wind resistance. ET3 submitted a formal proposal to Florida as part of a transportation initiative and was, by far, the lowest bidder; however, it was rejected because it was just too "far out" to "sell" to the board making the decision. That is pretty funny, since Jules Verne presented a similar concept in one of his 19th century stories.

Timo | 25 ottobre 2013

I think you need to do a "proof of concept" in some private land. Doesn't need to be long or even fast, just to show all the working components. Hyperloop probably would get exactly same treatment, just like anything that looks/feels even tiniest bit scifi for person/persons deciding about governmenal/state/whatever funding.

Robert Fallin | 25 ottobre 2013

We are scheduled to build one in China, I believe. However, even automotive companies approve designs based on computer modeling these days. I believe the real problem is fear of competition from vested interests in conventional transportation. I honestly believe, one of the big reasons Elon Musk succeeded was that none of the vested interests believed he could, given the frugal development budget for the Tesla roadster.

Webcrawler | 27 ottobre 2013

A 3D printed metal part is significantly weaker than a forged or cold drawn metal part. I see little way to actually 3D print most of the structural parts, but it could be used in smaller parts.

Also drop forging is significantly faster than 3D printing in most cases. Even when you factoring the welding processes for stamped and spot welded assemblies, i think the 3D printing process be take longer for larger parts although I have never really studied it...

Dramsey | 27 ottobre 2013

Existing manufacturing methods (stamping, machining, etc.) are much faster than 3D printing, as I've mentioned. Also, the cost differential (the up-front cost for molds, stamping machines, etc.) is minimal when amortized over large production runs.

I don't see production 3D printing ever making fiscal sense except in very specialized cases.

Andrzej1 | 27 ottobre 2013

Webcrawler wrote, “A 3D printed metal part is significantly weaker”.

With post processing it certainly is not significantly weaker. In fact Arcam's 3D EBM printer produces dense parts that with homogenisation are stronger then cast and comparable to wrought. See here, and here, .

In fact GE is so impressed with its new printed fuel nozzle that it plans on opening a new dedicated facility for printing parts using DLML. Its old nozzle had a part count of 20 with a combination of cast, forged, and machined parts all the while being 5 times less durable then the printed nozzle.

Furthermore, because the design constraints are not the same as with traditional manufacturing, one can get a better part as GE has in the printed fuel nozzle with a better spray pattern.

Finally, GE has found that additive gives you a weight reduction of between 33%-80%.

just an allusion | 31 ottobre 2013

Yes, thank you Brian H and Timo, I honestly hadn't considered an overseas expansion might be in the works, at least not until all of the kinks were ironed out stateside.

However, if Mr. Musk sees that as the best methodology to increasing product distribution and progressing the worldwide adaptation to EV's, then I'm certain that such is the most advisable strategy...I can only hope that he has considered the full implications of distributing the proprietary technology beyond our borders and into markets where such might not be as...umm, secure...and guards against the potential risk of IP theft/infringement.

just an allusion | 31 ottobre 2013

Ah, Mr. Fallin, in regards to your Hyperloop comments...Talking about farming out the concept to someone else is exactly what I was referring to when I referenced proprietary ownership.

Are you aware that it was but 12 to maybe 24 hours after Musk mentioned his idea of the Hyperloop that the people at ET3 had a complete set of plans for their own system, up to and including a to-scale mock up of their concept? Talk about leeching!

If anything, it is incidents of this nature that serve to irrefutably demonstrate the very real world need of keeping ones ideas and concepts close to the vest/under wraps until they are fully patented and copyrighted to guard against such patent trolls/copyright infringement.

Truth be told, if anyone else were able to do it, they would have already. The ET3 guys are just jockeying for some funding/out to sweep it out from under Musk.

Timo | 1 novembre 2013

ET3 idea is old. Like really old, from 1800s. Originally from pneumatic tubes:

Timing might well have been just coincidence. This thing actually happens fairly often in science, once all the basics have been discovered and something turns feasible several people invent the same thing approximately at the same time with tiny variations. I'm not sure what it is this time, probably something to do with materials and manufacturing.

just an allusion | 1 novembre 2013


I honestly doubt that there was any "coincidence" to the timing and, yes, the idea/concept is dated.

But like I've said, if anyone could have done it, they would have by now.

Brian H | 1 novembre 2013

Getting a soft vacuum is far easier than hard. That and various material science advances make a new game. Various companies are already being formed, with heavy hitters in charge, to demo and build the HyperLoop.

More delusion from allusion.

just an allusion | 4 novembre 2013

First off, I don't understand the animosity, but I guess that that is something that you need to do to feel better about your...inadequacies"?"

Anyway, I hope that others DO get involved and, perhaps, even pull it off, though it doesn't APPEAR that they'll be able to with any real success because I see a number of issues with their core methodologies.

just an allusion | 4 novembre 2013

Or maybe that is just part of my "delusion"?

Timo | 4 novembre 2013

Which one? Hyperloop or ET3? I don't really see anything seriously wrong in either of them, just that ET3 is a bit harder to do because of hard vacuum.

just an allusion | 8 novembre 2013


The ET3...I'm just seeing far too many impracticalities whereas the Hyperloop is totally workable, likely because it employs a different methodology.

Brian H | 9 novembre 2013

Agreed. The Perfect (vacuum) really is the enemy of the good, in this case!

Timo | 9 novembre 2013

OTOH if they can do that, then there is nothing wrong in the concept. Then it's not really question of practicality, only cost. If hyperloop is clearly cheaper, then that's the winner.

As I said earlier: they need to make proof of concept. People just don't believe they can do it. I have hard time believing myself.

just an allusion | 19 novembre 2013


No, nothing at all wrong with the concept, just the suggested methodology of implementation.

3dtechnology2015 | 25 ottobre 2015

Thanks for your comment. You are right, the technology is not there...yet. You did point out the biggest single obstacle and inspired me as to something I did not factor, i.e., drying times for layers of dissimilar materials. This may mean that all parts could be printed, but that the vehicle would then still have to be assembled by robots.greatly increasing assembly times and space requirements. However, no one will really know until it is tried, and it still seems to me a challenge worth taking, since all the other aspects affecting the cost of manufacture are greatly reduced.
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