By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Jonathan Brand is a designer and artist whose 3D printed 1969 Mustang and Honda CB500 are making engineers think twice about the production process of vehicles.
While previously, some parts were made on one country and shipped to another for assembly, Just in Time (JIT) production processes innovated by the Japanese helped businesses save money and waste by reducing in-process inventory and associated carrying costs.
Today, Brand’s 3D printed plastic motorcycle and paper car, using Ultimaker 3D printers, has sparked auto manufacturers into thinking it’s just a matter of time before all vehicles are made via this zero waste, zero shipping method.
Canadian born and Yale educated, Brand’s creative process begins as 3D drawings on a computer: he uses a large format printer to translate the digital into the real world as a flat inkjet print. He then cuts, folds and glues these numbered and labeled shapes together much like an elaborate three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The most necessary elements for such a production are, he says: ‘good software and hardware and a lot of knowledge in both areas. I think most users can either make the digital file and have someone print it, or they can print but not make a good model. I spend a lot of time looking at what’s happening and I think both software and printers are quite a few years out of really being as simple to use as Microsoft Word and an inkjet printer.”
While his models are not functional, Brand believes it’s only a matter of time before vehicles are 3D printed, and points out that advances in metal printing and NASA’s commitment to 3D development will drive the technology forward in the coming years.
Engineers are doing “really exciting things” with 3D printing, he says. He can certainly include himself in their ranks.