3D Car Printing Comes to the Real World


You’ve probably heard about a few of the 3D printed cars that have hit the world’s roadways in the last few months. Those were certainly innovative, but they weren’t widely available (or available at all in some instances).

However, things might be changing if Local Motors has anything to say about it. If you caught any of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, you probably heard a little bit about the stunt the company pulled, but maybe not about what the firm plans to do in the new year.

What’s going on?

The Auto Show

If you missed the footage of the Detroit Auto Show, it might be worth it to take a look even if it’s only to see the Local Motors display. The company actually printed a working automobile right at the show, live.

The car in question, the Italian designed Strati, took about 44 hours to print during the show, and it all took place in front of attendees. The result was the world’s second fully functional 3D printed car.

The car requires 212 layers of printing, and the company used a Big Area Additive Manufacturing printer utilizing carbon fiber reinforce plastic filament. This filament is extruded at 250 degrees.

Go beyond the fancy names and you’ll find that Local Motors really used a giant FDM printer, and a filament very similar to standard ABS to create the Strati.

A Look at the Car

The Strati isn’t your average family sedan. It’s a two-seater designed primarily for in-town use.

The engine is 100% electric, although the company didn’t release the distance capable on a single charge. It’s capable of reaching up to about 50 miles per hour, and is all-wheel drive.

It uses a single-speed automatic transmission and regenerative braking, and the wheels are custom made by Fifteen52 (and are not part of the 3D print). The seats are also not 3D printed.

Interested in getting behind the wheel? It’ll cost you somewhere between $18,000 and $32,000 depending on the options you choose.

All that and you can’t even break the 50 mph mark. Still, it might be worth it for those who primarily drive in town, where speed limits are considerably lower than the Strati’s top speed.

In all, Local Motors anticipates that it would take about a week to print and then assemble a car for use on the road by the average consumer. To help make that possible, the company has announced it will be opening two micro-factories later in 2015.

Currently, Local Motors has two factors in Las Vegas and Phoenix. The two new locations will be in Knoxville, Tennessee and Washington D.C.

There are even plans to open a third new location outside North America, although the firm hasn’t announced the actual location.

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