Carroll Shelby International, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Create First 3-D Printed Shelby 427 Cobra – UnderhoodService
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Carroll Shelby International, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Create First 3-D Printed Shelby 427 Cobra

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The President of the United States admires the 3-D printed Shelby Cobra.

The President of the United States admires the 3-D printed Shelby Cobra.

Carroll Shelby International Inc. collaborated with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to create the world’s first 3-D printed Shelby Cobra. This homage to Shelby with a technological twist was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, which took place Jan. 12-15 in Detroit, almost 50 years after the reveal of the 427 Cobra in January 1965.

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“Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s project to create a Shelby Cobra using 3-D printing technology was a brilliant program,” said Joe Conway, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “Applying 3-D printing techniques to speed development and reduce costs resonates with us because Carroll continually leveraged new technologies to gain a competitive edge. The Cobra is a fitting symbol for this groundbreaking idea in the automotive industry.”

NAIAS attendees weren’t the only ones to admire the car. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden travelled to Tennessee once the Cobra was printed. They used the car to promote new technology jobs in America.

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“The classic Shelby American vehicle was a great opportunity for applying Big Area Additive Manufacturing technology,” said Jennifer Palmer, business development and outreach manager in the Advanced Manufacturing Office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “It was a thrill to apply digital manufacturing to an iconic vehicle with such a history of prestige in the performance field. We’re pleased that the 3-D Cobra has received the response it deserves.”

The laboratory took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby Cobra, including 24 hours of print time. The lab can manufacture strong, lightweight composite parts, which ultimately yielded the sleek 1,400-pound 3-D printed Cobra. A large percentage of these printed parts included extensive carbon fiber to minimize weight.

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“Shelby American’s participation in this project demonstrates the reverence for our iconic designs,” said Neil Cummings, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Carroll Shelby Licensing. “Last year, the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe became the first car in the U.S. government’s National Historic Vehicle Register. With the 50th anniversary of our big block Cobra in 2015, the ORNL project shows that our designs are as appealing today as the moment when the roadster was unveiled.”

The car’s purpose goes far beyond proving there’s more than one way to make a car. ORNL plans to use the 3-D printed Shelby as a mobile laboratory. The Cobra is compatible with components such as battery and fuel cell technologies, hybrid system designs, power electronics and wireless charging systems to allow researchers to quickly test new ideas.

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