First Ever 3D-Printed Delivery Van Ready for Production
Helixx, a technology company in the U.K., is developing a last-mile delivery minivan made from 3D printing. 3D-printing the body makes it adaptable and easy to assemble. With only five body parts, they “click and bond” together, as shown with the first of its prototypes.
How will Helix vans be manufactured?
But part of the story is its approach to the manufacturing and distribution side of the business. For one, it plans on marketing and selling to fleets, the construction industry, and ride-sharing companies, not individuals. And secondly, the manufacturing process makes it simple and fast to create small factories or “Mobility Hubs” in more isolated developing nations.
“Helixx was born to meet the challenge of transforming the quality and standard of mobility for citizens in heavily congested cities,” says Helixx CEO Steve Pegg. “The vehicles offered by Helixx are the key to replacing the heavily polluting combustion-powered vehicles relied upon in developing nations today.”
Will there be other body styles besides the Helixx van?
Helixx plans on beginning production of its minivan next year. Besides the van, it will also have a pickup, a taxi-like passenger van, and an open sightseeing-type van. All of them can use other brands’ names by licensing the design. So technically, Ford or Fiat could sell them as their own products.
By going with 3D printing instead of sheet metal, Helixx says it reduces the assembly process by as much as 50%. Structural portions of the van are also 3D-printed. It also weighs 30% less and has fewer components overall. Helixx says it can provide regions with their own manufacturing hub in as little as 180 days. It will handle all of the raw materials, components, and production processes, according to its website.
How much can the Helixx van haul?
So, aspects outside the body and structural supports themselves see improvements over traditional small delivery vans. Speaking of small, it measures out to be just under 10 ½-feet and five-feet wide. Cargo capacity is 74 cubic feet with a 1,100 lb payload capacity. There is only a single driver’s seat in a central driving position in the sparse interior.
But remember, this is for commercial use only. Having only one seat gives more space for cargo on either side. And it does away with having both left-hand and right-hand steering positions.
What are Helixx’s “On Demand” services?
Part of the purchase price comes with “On Demand” services like maintenance and repairs, insurance, and roadside assistance. Helixx has not provided motor and battery specs but does say that batteries will incorporate rapid battery swap technology to keep fleets moving. They’ll also be Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery packs.
The first run of minivans will be 100, starting next year with Siemens. While in the midst of this, it will also be establishing other pilot hubs in both the UK and Singapore.