World’s first 3D-printed electric car

Order and pick up your customized personal car. That’s the vision of Arizona-based company Local Motors.

Local Motors plans to transform the traditional automotive world with the launch of a three dimensional (3D) printed car next year. Strati is an electric car developed by Local Motors and manufactured in collaboration with Cincinnati Incorporated and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It is made from ABS plastic that has been enforced with carbon fibre.

The car was manufactured using a Large Scale 3D Printer developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Inc. It took 44 hours to print the car which was followed by three days of milling and assembling.

Everything on the car has been printed including the chassis frame, exterior body and some internal features. The Battery, motors, wiring and suspension are sourced from Renaults Twizy an electric powered car. After the car is printed, the mechanical and electrical parts such as battery, motors, and suspension are manually assembled. The two initial Local Motors models are the Reload Swim and Sport model.

The two-seat Strati is considered to be a “neighborhood” electric car. This car is not designed to be used on highways, as it does not meet the required safety test requirements. Once cleared up by the U.S> vehicles rules and regulations, it will be able to be used on public roads.

Though it currently takes 44 hours to print a car currently, the research and development team is working to speed up the print rate while maintaining the quality of the car. They intend to cut the print process to 24 hours.

Strati is printed from thermoplastic using a 3D-printing  big area additive manufacturing BAAM machine.

This material is fully recyclable, which means that it can be chopped and reprocessed to be used in printing another car.  Cars, at the moment, are ridiculously complex and need thousands of bits and pieces to be sourced, assembled and connected to make a vehicle. The average car has more than 20,000 parts but this latest technology reduces the number of parts to 40 including all the mechanical components. The goal is to get the number of parts down and drop the tooling costs to almost zero.

A traditional automobile is put together piece by piece on an assembly line through a plant that might cost as much as $1 billion to erect. Local Motors plans to set up a series of compact facilities at a fraction of the size and cost. The company is already organizing a worldwide network of “Microfactories” where you can order and pick up your personalized, customized car.

Today’s emerging technology is an alternative to the traditional tooling and machining processes used in manufacturing. The latest technology inventions in 3D printing are rapidly changing how things are being made.

Disputes exist over the title of the world’s first 3D-printed car.

In 2010, a hybrid car “Urbee” was 3D-printed using an additive manufacturing process for the entire body. Local Motors claimed that Urbee’s manufacturer only 3D-printed the panels and other exterior parts, but used standard parts for the internal structure. For Strati, the company claimed that 3D printing was used for all except the parts that are “mechanically involved”. As of now, Strati still holds the honor of the world’s first 3D-printed electric car.



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