Local Motors has unveiled its first 3D-printed car at 2015 Detroit Auto Show, by printing the vehicle on the event’s show floor.
Called the Strati, the vehicle is the first in a line of 3D-printed cars from Local Motors. The design was chosen in May 2014 from more than 200 submitted to Local Motors by the company’s online co-creation community after launching a call for entries.
The winning design was submitted by Michele Anoè who was awarded a cash prize plus the opportunity to see his design brought to life.
“Since launching in 2007, we have continuously disrupted the way vehicles are designed, built, and sold,” said Local Motors Co-founder and CEO John B. Rogers, Jr. “We paired micro-manufacturing with co-creation to bring vehicles to market at unprecedented speed. We proved that an online community of innovators can change the way vehicles go from designed to driven. We pioneered the concept of using direct digital manufacturing (DDM) to 3D-print cars. I am proud to have the world’s first 3D-printed car be a part of our already impressive portfolio of vehicles.”
Three-Phase Process: Print, Refine, Finish
Local Motors is showcasing the proprietary three-phased manufacturing process for 3D-printing cars during the Detroit Auto Show.
The first phase in 3D-printed manufacturing is additive. Made from a carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic material by SABIC, the current model of the Strati takes approximately 44 hours to print 212 layers. The end result is a completed 3D-printed Car Structure™.
The second phase of 3D-printed manufacturing is subtractive. Once 3D printing is complete, the 3D-printed Car Structure moves to a Thermwood CNC router that mills the finer details. After a few hours of milling, the Strati’s exterior details take shape.
The last phase of 3D-printed manufacturing is rapid assembly. After the 3D-printed Car Structure is printed and refined, the non 3D-printed components, including the drivetrain, electrical components, gauges and wiring, plus the tires are added. A vinyl wrapping, paint or other surface treatment is used to complement the 3D-printed texture, resulting in a showroom-ready vehicle.
Local Motors will also offer the automotive industry a glimpse into the future of manufacturing. The technology company has built a working micro-factory on the show floor, giving a front-row seat of how cars will be made in the near future. A micro-factory is home to additive manufacturing, which uses digital 3D-design data, called Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), to make a product to exact specifications, without traditional and costly tooling.
What’s more, a micro-factory, which is typically located within 100 miles of major urban centers, creates more than 100+ local jobs, reduces freight and distribution costs by 97%, increases recycling and reduces waste while speeding delivery time to market.
A Local Motors micro-factory is typically 40,000 sf and includes 20,000 sf for a Lab, used for co-creation, research, technology, education and free community events; 10,000 sf for a Vehicle Showroom and Retail Store; 10,000 sf for a Build Floor to accommodate light assembly of products and vehicles.
Local Motors announced two new micro-factory locations: one in Knoxville, Tenn. and one at National Harbor, just outside Washington DC. The Knoxville location highlights the collaboration between Local Motors and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which signed a deal a year ago to design, build and print the world’s first 3D-printed car.
The Local Motors Knoxville micro-factory will focus on rapid commercialize of advanced manufacturing learning’s from ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Faculty and highlights the company’s commitment to being a member of the newly announced IACMI. Debuting the world’s first 3D-printed car at NAIAS demonstrates the success of the public-private partnership.
The micro-factory in National Harbor will be where the first fleet of 3D-printed cars will be manufactured and sold. The location is set to break ground in Q3 2015, with the first 3D-printed vehicles to be delivered and on the road shortly thereafter.