Local Motors Promises a 3D Printed Car by September

Most of the time when additive manufacturing (AM) professionals and pundits talk about how 3D printing is changing the manufacturing landscape, the discussion is limited to a few complex parts. Very few companies have yet to attempt use AM to build an entire finished product, unless that product is fairly small.

The Urbee is one of the few attempts at using AM for full-scale production, and it’s still a fairly niche product. Local Motors is attempting to match, or even one-up the Urbee, by delivering a 3D printed car to the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2014. 

According to the Local Motors website the goals for production are as follows:

  • To create the majority structure of a new vehicle using an additive/subtractive hybrid methodology.
  • To define this methodology enough to do an aesthetic study in how this vehicle could be styled.
  • To apply an electric powertrain to this vehicle and have the structure support it.
  • To DEMONSTRATE that this methodology could be more economical compared to other existing methods, with a early build happening at the IMTS show in 2014, and following up with creating a production level design in the months following the show.
The plan to build a new vehicle primarily by using AM includes working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and its hybrid additive/subtractive machine still under development. The system uses a large diameter extrusion head to 3D print objects and then switches to a router on the same head to machine printed objects to more precise specifications.

Local Motors uses what might be described as enhanced crowd sourcing to produce its designs. The company offers its users a suite of online design tools to create new products or to assist in completing an ongoing project. Users receive copyright considerations for their designs. Local Motors also engages in small-scale manufacturing to produce end-use products, and assists inventors with marketing.

According to a deal inked with ATM, Local Motors will produce a finished electric car for this year’s IMTS, which gives the company a September 8 deadline to complete planning, building and testing the vehicle. That is a really fast development cycle, and it will be interesting to see if Local Motors can pull it off.

“Local Motors is undeniably the first disruptive entrant into the U.S. automotive industry in decades,” said Bonnie Gurney, director of communications at AMT. “The innovations they are driving in the design, manufacture and sale of vehicles has been empowering individual innovators since 2007.”

Below you’ll find a video update about Local Motors 3D printed car.

Source: Local Motors

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About the Author

John Newman

John Newman is a Digital Engineering contributor who focuses on 3D printing. Contact him via [email protected] and read his posts on Rapid Ready Technology.

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