As we see a progression within the additive manufacturing space, it’s only natural that boundaries will be pushed and broken, while new innovative uses for the technology emerge. What may be a breakthrough today, could be commonplace tomorrow. The industry is incredibly exciting to watch as visionaries expand the usefulness of 3D printing to areas we could never have even imagined only a few short years ago.
If you were to ask random people what the ultimate 3D print would be, you’d likely hear things such as, ‘a human organ’, ‘a house’, or ‘a car’ mentioned quite frequently. The incredible truth is, that each of these three objects could be 3D printed within the next decade. In fact, there are already examples of 3D printed homes, and this week is going to be a memorable one for those present at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), where Arizona based Local Motors will 3D print and assemble an automobile live.
The team started printing the ‘Strati’ car yesterday, with the very first layers of the carbon reinforced ABS plastic being extruded from the massive Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine. The Local Motors team will continue to work on this incredible project all week long until they hopefully drive it out of McCormick Place in Chicago, this coming Saturday.
“The Strati was designed by our community, made in our Microfactory and will be driven by you,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO of Local Motors. “This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo, changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way.”
We have been following Local Motors for some time now, and can tell you first hand that they have been working extremely hard on this project, with the help of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cincinnati Incorporated. The vehicle will feature only 40 different parts, whereas the average vehicle you and I drive to work each day has over 20,000 parts.
When most people envision 3D printing, they think of the little plastic trinkets which take hours to print, and are no bigger than one’s fist. This is why, to most, it may seem nearly impossible for Local Motors to achieve the printing of an entire automobile within a six day period. However, they aren’t using just any 3D printer. The BAAM machine was provided to Local Motors from Cincinnati Incorporated, and can print at staggering rates, at least relative to other 3D printers you may be used to seeing. The machine can lie down an amazing 40 pounds of material every hour, rapidly fabricating entire car parts.
“This project represents the unique opportunity DOE’s National Laboratory System offers to the industry, to collaborate in an open environment to deliver fast, innovative, manufacturing solutions,” said Craig Blue, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Program and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. “These partnerships are pushing the envelope on emerging technologies, such as large scale additive manufacturing, and accelerating the growth of manufacturing in the United States.”
If Local Motors finds success this week at the IMTS, the company plans to launch production-level 3D printed vehicles for sale to the public in the coming months. We will be covering the progress that the Strati 3D printed car makes all week long, leading up to its drive out of the show on Saturday the 13th.
Do you think that Local Motors will succeed in their attempt to 3D print the first car of its kind this week? Discuss in the Local Motors 3D printed car forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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