Hot on the heels of the recent Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara conference, I find myself wishing I’d stayed out west a little longer–but here I am in unseasonably warm Cleveland today, a little jealous of those in Las Vegas who are able to attend SEMA Show 2015, where Local Motors is unveiling their second concept car, the LM3D Swim.
“In the past few months our engineers have moved from only a rendering to the car you see in front of you today,” Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers told the crowd at SEMA. “We are using the power of DDM [direct digital manufacturing] to create new vehicles at a pace unparalleled in the auto industry, and we’re thrilled to begin taking orders on 3D-printed cars next year.”
The presales Rogers mentions mark a big step for Local Motors, which intends to carry through on manufacturing and delivery in early 2017, following presales starting in spring 2016. The LM3D series cars have a targeted MSRP of $53,000 (“depending on a wide variety of features”), marking them as not quite the most affordable cars on the lot–but certainly the most customized and among the most interesting vehicles to take to the road. Estimated for a Q2 2016 launch, presales will be available via Indiegogo, with retail purchase possible later in 2016. Financing has not been settled yet, but the company expects to make it an available option for buyers.Throughout 2016, Local Motors intends to release new models in the LM3D series, concurrently pursuing certifications for federal crash test and highway readiness. Further cars in the series will differ from the Swim model mostly in aesthetics, though some hardware features will vary based on the needs of the selected body design.
Local Motors’ (currently under construction) 50,000-square-foot microfactory in Knoxville, Tennessee, is set to be finished by the end of this year and open in Q2 2016, and will be the site of all LM3D series car manufacturing. The comany’s microfactories can each house up to six large-scale 3D printers; when the Knoxville location opens, it will feature four or five operable 3D printers, and is expected to reach full capacity in early 2017. While exact production numbers will depend on orders for the cars, Local Motors notes that each microfactory will have an expected annual production capacity of 2,400 vehicles.Kevin Lo’s design for the LM3D Swim won the Project [Redactred] design challenge on July 7th, and just a few months later is ready for its debut, having needed just two months to go from design to prototype, with the first concept car produced on September 18th. The simultaneous announcement of upcoming presales availability drives home the seriousness with which Local Motors is approaching their disruptive take on the automotive field. They’re ready, and it’s coming.
Ultimately, the LM3D Swim is set to be fully road-ready–as certified by the reassurance of crash testing plans–and a “fully homologated series of cars built using DDM, of which 3D-printing is a part,” as the company’s press release explains. The direct modeling techniques employed in the design of the 3D printed car were created thanks to the use of Solid Edge and other software developed by Siemens, which allowed for a fast and responsive design process that could “move quickly from concept to car.” Thermoplastic materials for the LM3D Swim’s body were provided by SABIC. While different formulations and blends are being tested regularly for use in Local Motors’ cars, right now they note that their blend for additive manufacturing is 80% ABS plastic and 20% carbon fiber material.
Local Motors has made headlines for some time now, including impressing crowds last year by 3D printing, assembling, and test driving their Strati car live at IMTS. The company has also partnered with some major names in the tech world to increase their capabilities and offerings–and it seems to be paying off. Just last week, Local Motors was presented with the annual Excellence in Innovation Award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Manufacturing Summit, which Kate of Local Motors explained was “based on our manufacturing contributions in Arizona, particularly for our team’s efforts in building the world’s first 3D-printed car.”
Among Local Motors’ partnerships is a recent one with IBM, which is intended to enhance the overall interaction among the company’s microfactory and 3D printed vehicles, the cars’ drivers, and the outside environment via IoT technology through IBM Watson. Furthermore, says the company, “Local Motors plans to utilize partners like IBM as well as other leading technology companies to develop and launch a series of apps and vehicle products to connect, monitor and optimize the driving experience. ” Local Motors continues to look for further opportunities from the community, and interested designers can become involved with the road-ready 3D printed car project.
What are your thoughts on this new 3D printed car? Let us know in the LM3D Swim Car forum on 3DPB.com.