It’s an entertaining exercise to think about what cars may look like in 10, 20, 50 years. Science fiction writers love to speculate about the vehicles of the future – right now, I’m reading a book set in the not-too-distant future in which autonomous cars are more common than manually driven ones, and all signs point to that future being a reality before too long, thanks to 3D technology. Both in the book and in reality, there are pressing concerns about safety and surveillance, but the technology is coming.
It’s also likely that when these cars of the future do arrive, they will be entirely or mostly 3D printed. Just ask Local Motors; the company appears to be closer than anyone else to actually marketing the first 3D printed car. Now a new partnership with Siemens looks to speed the cars’ development along. It’s far from being the first time the two companies have worked together, however. Local Motors has been using Siemens’ Solid Edge software for several years, but the new partnership will expand the company’s use of Solid Edge and add in the use of Siemens’ NX software as well as their Fibersim portfolio. The two companies will work together through the Local Motors (LM) Labs program, which is one of the cooler initiatives developed by a company in recent years, in my opinion. They’re essentially company-sponsored hackerspaces in which community members can come in to work on their own projects or lend a hand to Local Motors’ own work.
“We have been partners with Siemens since 2011, and today’s announcement takes that partnership to the next level by enabling our community of co-creators to innovate even faster,” said Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors. “We developed the world’s first co-created vehicle and 3D-printed car, and now our LM Labs program is providing the world’s makers with a way – both online and offline – to create new technologies to advance the future of transportation. Open to anyone, LM Labs helps brilliant minds create new technologies the world needs. While our primary focus is on developing vehicles, LM Labs is a place where the community can advance any technology.”
Siemens brings to the equation significant expertise in the creation of “digital twins,” an IoT technology that enables physical cars and other vehicles to transmit real-time performance data to their computerized doubles created by the manufacturer. This allows engineers to test products in the virtual world, speeding up the prototyping process. In addition, Local Motors’ digital design manufacturing/3D printing technologies limit the need for tooling and cut back on the time lag between design and production, as well as simplifying design and redesign overall. Overall, the combination of the two companies’ assets should seriously speed up the development and marketing of 3D printed cars.
“By focusing on initiatives like Industrie 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things, big data analytics, cloud computing and much more, Siemens leads the way in advancing the future of manufacturing,” said Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, executive vice president, chief digital officer, Siemens PLM Software. “As part of this leadership, we recognize the growing importance of additive manufacturing and 3D printing for the global manufacturing industry. That is why we are delighted to partner with innovative companies like Local Motors who are leading the way for large-scale 3D printing. By working closely together, we can help advance this technology so that all manufacturers can better realize innovation.”
Local Motors will be opening three new facilities this year, all of which will feature LM Labs sponsored by Siemens. Are you interested in driving one of these vehicles? Discuss in the 3D Printed Cars forum over at 3DPB.com.