Aston Martin uses 3D-printing and aerospace tech to build their new concept car

Fuels |  2 min. read

Rotating license plates, oil slicks and smoke screens, bullet-proof screen in the back and machine guns in the front – and, an ejector seat.  Oh yeah, that’s James Bond’s classic Aston Martin.

But now Aston Martin is back with something that’s just about as cool – a 3D-printed car.  Ok, not the entire car.  But a lot of it.

And this is no ordinary car (well, being an Aston Martin, you probably figured that already).

(Photo from Aston Martin)

You can’t see it from that view, but a good bit of the inside is printed, including the center console (which is half the weight of a conventionally-made console).  The car is built around a carbon fiber structure, which cuts the weight of the car even more.  (And those lighter materials are made possible in the first place, by petrochemical-made polymers.)

Did You Know?

Carbon fiber is a simple name for a very high-tech material.  First, they take propylene and mix it with ammonia and air to convert it to acrylonitrile.  Then, they polymerize the acrylonitrile to make polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber – see how adding the “poly” to acrylonitrile means that it’s now a plastic?  After that, the PAN fiber is subjected to very high temperature without oxygen (so it doesn’t burn, and we’ll learn more about pyrolysis later), which creates a special new carbon fiber that when placed in an epoxy a certain way, makes a material that is as strong as steel, but a fraction of the weight.  Oh yeah, that epoxy is also made from a petrochemical called propylene.

Aston Martin hasn’t said yet (the car is still in the concept stage) how fast it will be, but when Car and Driver asked how it would stack up to 789 horsepower of the McLaren Senna – Aston Martin said, yeah, its new car’s twin-turbo V-6 (with hybrid assistance) would probably be at least as powerful.  (The new Aston Martin doesn’t make smoke screens or oil slicks, even James Bond probably wouldn’t need them, not with that kind of horsepower.)

Here’s a couple of other cool things about the new ride.  Aston Martin has borrowed some tech from the aerospace industry, to make a rear wing for the car that can “flex” without any moving parts – to whatever angle minimizes drag and turbulence.  Oh, and the new car will have Castrol’s new 90-second oil change system!

If you’re curious about what Bond’s original Aston Martin looked like, by the way, it looked like this:

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

You can’t buy that one;  it’s sitting in a Dutch museum.  And Aston Martin only plans to make 500 of the new ones, so if you’re interested, you might want to act sooner rather than later.

Just ask for “An Aston Martin.  Printed, not welded.”  Or something like that.