Could this new project be a look into the future of car design? Local Motors, a Phoenix-based company, have been developing a way to create cars through the use of 3D printers. The world's first 3D printed car was debuted at Chicago's International Manufacturing Technology show.
The vision comes from Local Motors CEO – Jay Rogers. The company is currently a low-volume manufacturer of open-source motor vehicle designs but have now set their sights on the printed vehicle of the future. The world's first 3D printed car or 'Strati' was the product of a design contest and was created entirely using direct digital manufacturing.
The giant printer was sourced with the help of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine can lay down 40 pounds per hour of carbon reinforced ABS plastic and is large enough to produce the entire vehicles body as one piece.
The 49 parts that make up the Strati took 44 hours to print. The printed parts were then assembled by the Local Motors team at the International Manufacturing Technology Show; with the additional parts like the windscreen, engine, seats and wheels being added post printing. The Strati is made of over 4,500 less parts than your average road car helping to keep production efficient and the weight down to just 1500lbs.
The drivetrain used in the Strati is taken from the Renault Twizy electric vehicle and allows the innovative vehicle to travel a range of 12 miles and reach about 40mph. In an effort to make the car more practical, there are plans to utilise a petrol engine and to push the car up to motorway speeds before production ramps up. Local Motors CEO, Jay Rogers, says that once production began the Strati would cost around $18,000.
The new technology could mean that, one day, a customer could walk into a dealership, order their car to an exact specification – Two or four seats, convertible or hardtop – and then drive away in a brand new car just a few hours later after the car has been printed and assembled.