How Vital Auto Makes Concept Cars With Formlabs Printers

With the help of 3D Printing, Vital Auto, a UK industrial design studio, makes concept cars for some of the world’s biggest automakers.

Founded in 2015, Vital Auto won its first gig to design the NIO EP9 for Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer NIO. Since then, the company has worked for Volvo, McLaren, Nissan, and most other marques you can name.

“Clients typically come to us to try and push the boundaries of what’s possible with the technology available,” said Shay Moradi, Vital’s VP of Innovation & Experiential Technology. In other words, manufacturers work with Vital Auto to think outside the box.

3D Printing for concept cars 

Key to Vital Auto‘s design-led approach is 3D Printing, a technology they have used from the very beginning to fabricate parts for concept cars.

Fuse 1

Today, Vital Auto has a whole department dedicated to 3D Printing. “In terms of capacity, all those printers have run 100%, 24/7, pretty much since day one,” said Anthony Barnicott, Design Engineer in charge of additive manufacturing. “We use these printers for all areas of our concepts and designs.”

One of those 3D printers is the Formlabs Fuse 1, Formlabs’ first Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. It manufactures highly complex and intricate parts with unique geometries, using a high-powered laser to selectively ‘sinter’ nylon as opposed to a mechanical print head in FFF or a laser resin curing system in SLA.

Concept car 3D printing

“Typically, we would use the Fuse 1s for our production-based parts, and we would use our Form 3Ls for our concept-based parts,” said Barnicott.

The combination of Form 3L and Fuse 1 3D printers has enabled Vital Auto to design unique, interesting concept cars outside the norm.

Typical applications for manufacturing 

Vital Auto uses Low Force Stereolithography 3D printers for prototype parts and A-class finishing parts. A-class parts are not trimmed or lined, so they need to have a perfect finish that demonstrates high visual and mechanical qualities.

What are some of the typical applications? The team makes mechanical parts like air ducts and brake callipers with the Fuse 1 and interior and decorative components with the Form 3L.

3D printer department

“What interests me most about the Form 3L machines is their versatility, the ability to do a material change in less than five minutes, and the variability of those materials going from a soft, flexible material to a hard and rigid material for us is priceless,” said Barnicott.

Indeed, the Form 3L prints an enormous range of resins. In our introduction to SLA resins article, we looked at some of these and their qualities.

However, the most exciting area of Vital Auto’s 3D Printing is SLS technology with the Fuse 1. They use the Fuse 1 to manufacture strong, durable mechanical parts that would ordinally take days or weeks to make. With the Fuse 1, they can manufacture unique parts in-house that meet their engineering requirements.

“With the Fuse 1, not only do we have one of the machines, but we actually have five of the machines on the site,” said Barnicott. “What these machines enable us to do is produce structural, mechanical parts very quickly, not only for testing but for physical applications in most of our concepts.”

Source: Formlabs.

To find out more about the Fuse 1 and Form 3L, request a Formlabs sample, call us on 01765 694 007, or send us an email at You can also book a discovery call with our Formlabs specialists Elaine Rutledge or Tammy O’Neill.

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