Local Motors is building a vehicle using a 3D printer
3D printing is widely regarded as one of the most promising emerging technologies in the world right now, especially for manufacturing. The technology has already been used to produce small scale items such as various components, household items, and toys. However, a small Arizona-based company by the name of Local Motors is trying to apply the technology to the automotive industry by creating the world’s first fully drivable 3D-printed vehicle.
The vehicle, called the “Strati”, is being printed at the International Manufacturing and Technology Show in Chicago, the largest machine tool show in the Western Hemisphere, and is being assembled by a team of “rapid assembly” engineers. Local Motors expects the vehicle to be completed by this Saturday, at which point it will be driven off of the show floor. The whole process is supposed to take around 44 hours.
The Strati’s body, seats, and a few other major components are being printed out as a single piece using direct digital manufacturing (DDM), which is another term for 3D printing. While it’s important to note that not all of the car will be 3D printed, the feat is revolutionary nonetheless. The Strati’s electric motor, battery, wiring, suspension, and other such mechanical components are coming from “a variety of suppliers” according to Local Motors.
Craig Blue, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Program and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which is helping with the project, has said: “This project represents the unique opportunity DOE’s National Laboratory System offers to the industry, to collaborate in an open environment to deliver fast, innovative, manufacturing solutions. These partnerships are pushing the envelope on emerging technologies, such as large scale additive manufacturing, and accelerating the growth of manufacturing in the United States.”
Read more about the story at The Chicago Tribune.