It's still not possible to 3D print an entire car, but Honda will offer the next best thing.
The Japanese automaker is making data from old concept models available so people can print them out at home. Through the Honda 3D Design Archives website, users can download files and make their own miniature Hondas under the Creative Commons 4.0 license.
So far, Honda has uploaded five concepts spanning about two decades. These are: the 1994 FSR, 1999 Fuya-Jo, 2003 Kiwami, 2007 Puyo, and the Acura NSX concept first unveiled at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
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Honda says it hopes the 3D printing project will give users a a feel for what it's like to manufacture a car. It's all part of an ongoing public relations campaign to promote the "art of manufacturing," and to brand Honda as a company that approaches the business of making cars in a different way.
After all, what better way to promote products than to have potential customers make little replicas of them on their own desk tops? It's a lot easier (and cheaper) than handing out Honda-branded shopping bags at an auto show.
Because 3D printing brings manufacturing (of a sort) out of the factory, Honda also sees the project as a new way of communication between itself and the users of its products. Specifically, it hopes to encourage a future generation of car designers and engineers.
That may just turn out to be public-relations shlock from a company that--like nearly everyone and everything these days--impulsively identifies itself with any new technology to bolster perceived credibility. Either way, the Honda 3D Design Archives put a neat twist on automotive marketing, and should provide a novel experience for any car enthusiast with a 3D printer.