No, this is not a design-concept for a new fuel-saving single-seater. What we have here, is a new material, or to be more precise, a new type of manufacturing which is being tried out. The fanciful component shown above, is there to show just how far we've advanced as far as 3D-printing is concerned.
Metallic materials can also be used for 3D-printing, although synthetic,- and plastic materials are particularly suitable. Apparently, models of up to five meters in size are already possible. The one shown here is somewhat smaller. However, much more important is the structure which can be produced here.
Enlarge the picture shown above and have a look at the relatively fine bridging between the inner- and the outer shell. How would this be possible when using, e.g., a casting process? Using the 3D-printer, things can be created, which up to now, were considered impossible.
Indeed, there is still more to come. One can already 'print' metal parts which are larger than the palm of your hand. For €1,5 million e.g., there are devices that can produce the casings for large gearboxes. Indeed, this process is still more suitable for small series production. The advantage: One doesn't need any tools and there are no shavings, which have to be re-melted.
Where elsewhere, first of all a model has to be built and the casting material must be heated, the 'printer' can go straight to work. There is of course, another advantage: one can build considerably more lightweight, using about half the amount of material. The drawback is, substituting magnesium for aluminum makes things much more complicated.
Perhaps it will take a while, before here in Europe, series can be manufactured using 3D-printing, thus basically, bringing jobs back from cheap-labour countries. However, with the much stronger development of 3D-printing using plastics, it would appear that the machines will be used more for the manufacturing of prototypes and models, thus more in the development.
Examples for the motor industry and other prototypes, which later, e.g., will be made of metal, but first of all, for the purpose of very quick appraisal, are be made from plastics, can be seen here at Rapid Prototyping - 3D Druck. 04/15