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Detroit Auto Convention Shows Off 3-D Printed Cobra

cobra kitThe organizers of this year's Detroit Auto Show plan to showcase something truly remarkable: an AC Cobra replica -- and not just any ol' replica of the limited edition vehicle, originally built by Carroll Shelby between 1962 and 1968. This year will be the first year to feature a Technology Showcase, and the first (and perhaps the only) show with a 3-D printed Cobra in the spotlight.

All Cobras are markedly rare. Shelby produced just 350 big-block Cobras and 654 small-block Cobras. Cobras' reputations were well-earned, with an incredible horsepower of up to 400 in models such as the Shelby Mustang GT 500 and a comparatively light weight. The vast majority of race cars weigh in at 3,400 or higher; Cobras, on the other hand, weigh much less. The 3-D printed model at the Detroit Auto Show, for example, weighs just 1,400 pounds. Lonnie Love, a manufacturing researcher, hopes the Cobra will demonstrate the potential for faster and more efficient large-scale manufacturing methods.

What Does This Mean For Consumers?

Unfortunately, at this point, not much. As it stands, even the most basic 3-D printers cost $1,000 to $7,000 -- and most of these standard models aren't capable of printing something as large and complex as a roadster. In other words, this may be an option for manufacturers, with considerable time and fine-tuning. It's not likely to be a realistic option for everyday consumers, especially not anytime soon.

What Can They Do?

There is some good news. While it is impractical for the average Joe (or Jane) to 3-D print a Cobra replica, there are other options. Various companies sell complete Cobra kits, providing you with all of the necessary parts to build your own race car. Consumers can purchase AC Cobra kits and a variety of other, Shelby Cobra kit cars, for example. Kits come with instructions and diagrams, and customers can refer to the manufacturer or go online for more information.

The Detroit Auto Show will feature one of the first and only 3-D printed Cobra models. Make your own replica at home by purchasing a complete Cobra car kit.

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