We've seen plenty of projects from DIYer & digital fabricator Samuel Bernier before, from his Core77 Design Award honored Project RE_ to collaborative IKEA-hacking. He's also very lucky to have his interests intersect with his day job at Le FabShop, where he is the Directeur Créatif. Here he shares their latest project, 3D Printer + Electric Car.
Last February, Bertier [Luyt], founder of le FabShop, was stuck in a traffic jam in Paris. He was driving an Autolib, one of these small electric cars you can rent directly from an automated station on the street (similar to bicycle-sharing). Since le FabShop is a booming company, Bertier is always traveling. Looking at "cigarette plug" inside the car, he realized that he could optimize his time on the road to be more productive (phone excluded).
People had already plugged in a objects such as TV, espresso machines, game consoles... why not a 3D printer? Bertier could build prototypes and samples for our clients while driving and save some trips to the office—he often stops by our studio just to pick some of my printed models.
The idea was on our very long To-Do list until we met some very nice people from Renault's Creative lab who told us about their brand new electric car, Zoe. We made some tests with our own company car. It worked perfectly.
It went very fast from there. When the team came back from the NY MakerFaire, we moved our material close to Château de Versaille and filmed a little story while experimenting 3D printing in an electric car.
Our intern Tatiana created a number of storyboards—a plumber missing a "not so standard part"; a young man printing a gift for his girlfriend on the way home; a dad building sand tools for his children at the beach—but the architect and the last-minute model stood out.
We wanted to show that, 3D printing can also, in a way, be a mobile technology. The 3D file we chose to print is actually a model I made of my parent's cabin in Canada to help my father visualise the acrchitect's plans. Since everything was filmed in less than a day, we didn't have the time to design something just for fun. Also, the shape was easily recognisable as a house—here is a stop-motion video of the printing:
Note: This footage was captured from a stationary Replicator 2, independent of the actual road test
It worked surprisingly well. While driving, we rolled on some very bumpy roads that are hundreds of years old. The MakerBot disn't miss a single step. It wasn't even fixed. I honestly didn't think it could work, but it did.