Honda may be closing its vehicle manufacturing works in the town, but that’s definitely not the end for automotive innovation in Swindon.
The engineers behind a Swindon-based tech company Scaled have used lockdown to get the UK’s first 3D printed electric vehicle ready for trials.
Based at the Rushy Platt Industrial Estate in Swindon, David Speight and Bob Bradley have been using the time to realise their ambition 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 said: “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 team know that this type of vehicle won’t be suitable for everyone, however they believe it will work in many circumstances. They reckon it would be ideal for those who don’t need to drive long distances, those needing to use a company vehicle for short journeys during working hours, security firms who need to patrol in a defined area or around a defined site or short distance passenger transport eg. from airports or train stations to city centres.
David said: “Using this technology it can also be adapted to many, many different needs. Our prototype can achieve speeds of up to 45 mph and we have also used recycled plastic which is strong which helps the circular economy because it means plastics can be recycled and used to create a long-lasting vehicle.”
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.