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Project Chameleon: Europe’s First 3D-Printed Electric Vehicle Created During Lockdown

Scaled Ltd, based in Swindon, has used the lockdown to get the UK’s and Europe’s first 3D printed electric vehicle ready for trials. Project Chameleon is now one step closer to reality, aiming to bring sustainability, affordability and mass customisation to the EV market.

Based at the Rushy Platt Industrial Estate in Swindon, David Speight, Bob Bradley and the team at Scaled Ltd have been using this tricky time to move towards their vision of being able to create a fully-functioning electric vehicle for a single passenger using large scale 3D printing technology. The Chameleon is now available for driving demonstrations.

Bob Bradley said: “This technology has the potential to transform our lives and also inject more innovation into the transport sector. In time, being able to order the vehicle you want, which can be 3D printed will be cheaper and more sustainable for the environment. 

“We used this time to bring our vision – we call it Project Chameleon – a step closer. Being able to 3D print a vehicle will mean it’s more sustainable, more affordable and counter to Henry Ford’s original vision of ‘mass-production’ this would be ‘mass-customisation’.”

The team know that this type of vehicle won’t be suitable for everyone; however, they believe it will work for multiple circumstances, including:

  • The person who doesn’t need to drive long distances.
  • The person who lives alone or who has access to another vehicle for family use.
  • The person who needs to use a vehicle for short journeys during working hours.
  • Security firms, or other workers who patrol in a defined area or around a defined site.
  • Staff who need to move between multiple buildings across a large site.

Bob continued: “We hope to offer a viable alternative for those situations where a functional, sustainable electrical vehicle is attractive. Using this technology, it can also be adapted to a wide variety of different needs.

“Our prototype can achieve speeds of up to 45 mph, and we have also used high-strength recycled plastic which is an additional environmental benefit to the electric vehicle aspect. In theory, it should be possible to manufacture ecological light vehicles from materials that are currently dealt with as waste.”

The Chameleon vehicle embodies a range of innovative strategies and philosophies. The vehicle uses high-end 3D printed thermoplastics for the chassis, but the process has been designed to be as sustainable as possible, so Scaled has also made use of recycled plastics as well.

“We aimed for a 1:1 weight to payload ratio of just over 100kg to make it as efficient as possible. We have used new and emerging design techniques such as stochastic topology optimisation to remove redundant material, and above all we have utilised a “factory in a box” approach, producing the entire vehicle on a single manufacturing cell,” added David Speight.

See the vehicle in action below, as the team took a test drive around their manufacturing facility last week:

The vehicle was created on the team’s Chameleon Platform which is a manufacturing cell, including robotics. Scaled was set up five years ago as a tech start-up to give the UK market access to large scale 3D printing. For more information, visit https://scal3d.com.

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