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Doesn't Go 800 mph, But 3D Printed Hyperloop Model Is Cool

By Seth Fitzgerald
August 21, 2013 3:17PM

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Of all the things impressive regarding the 3D Hyperloop model, the fact that the designers created it in just 21 hours is perhaps most amazing. Not only does the Hyperloop model provide a glimpse into the future of transportation but it proves just how important 3D printing is and shows how it can be used to create quick models of complex projects.

Although a physical Hyperloop might be decades off, designers have been able to put together a 3D printed model of what the transportation system might be like. The model was put together by a Utah start-up based on the information and pictures that visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk released when talking about an 800-mph transportation system last week.

During the Hyperloop reveal, Musk said it would be awhile before he tackled it because his focus was on his SpaceX space-launching and Tesla electric-car ventures. Musk said he may get to working on a Hyperloop prototype within 10 years. With no one else stepping up to develop a real Hyperloop, at least WhiteClouds, a 3D modeling start-up in Ogden, Utah, was able to put together a model.

Small but Awesome

It does not take much more than a model to get geeks happy about projects such as the Hyperloop. Simply seeing anything other than a sketch of the system is great and with this 3D model, we can actually get a good idea of what the Hyperloop would be like.

Five designers at WhiteClouds were able to use three different printers, the ProJect 3500 HDMax, ZPrinter 650, and Connex 500 to develop and put together the model.

"When we saw the plans that Elon Musk was laying out for the future of transportation, we were really excited about the technology aspects and wanted to help promote the concept through 3D printing," said WhiteClouds CEO Jerry Ropelato. "It took us 21 hours from concept to final build. To combine the finished three parts took five minutes. That was part of the beauty of 3D printing, allowing us to easily connect the various parts."

Of all the things impressive regarding the 3D model, the fact that the designers created it in just 21 hours is perhaps the most amazing aspect of the story. Not only does this model provide a glimpse into the future of transportation but it proves just how important 3D printing is and shows how it can be used to create quick models of complex projects.

The Hyperloop

Even though it might be a long way off, the Hyperloop itself is at the center of the topic. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk mentioned the Hyperloop more than a month ago and released a full set of plans for the system last week. Although Musk is not interested in working on the Hyperloop right now, he is encouraging other entrepreneurs to work on developing a prototype.

The Hyperloop itself is meant to provide a cheaper and faster alternative to the bullet trains that California plans to build. The "fifth mode of transportation," as it has been called, would allow travelers to go from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes instead of the six- to eight-hour drive.

In order to complete these incredibly fast trips, the Hyperloop would move through a low-pressure tube at 800 miles per hour using a combination of magnetic levitation and pneumatic technology, but Musk said travelers would barely notice the speed.

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