In a year packed full of incredible news coming from the 3D printing space, there are a few particular stories which have really stood out, from my perspective. One happened just last week at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, Il, when Local Motors 3D printed an entire car, called Strati, within a 44 hour span. Making the feat even more incredible is the fact that they did this in front of spectators, and once complete drove the car out of the showroom, and into the road.
Another major piece of news within the industry was first revealed back in May by Autodesk, when the $12.2 billion software company announced their Spark platform and 3D printer. Spark is a platform which Autodesk plans to roll out later this year, to simplify the 3D printing process for material scientists, hardware manufacturers, product designers, and software developers. The platform aims to streamline digital information to 3D printers in an efficent, and easy to understand manner. Spark could potentially be the ‘Android” of the 3D printing world; a unified operating system to run a a variety of different 3D printers, from desktop devices, all the way up to large scale manufacturing machines.
“The Spark platform is set to accelerate manufacturing innovation,” said Alex Fiechter, head of community management for Local Motors. “From capturing our ideas more accurately to guiding Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) and simplifying the creation of machine code, Spark will help us to turn digital models into an actual physical production parts far faster than was previously possible.”
Local Motors used a massive fused deposition modeling 3D printer called the BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine, which was provided to them by Cincinnati Inc. They will now integrate the Autodesk Spark platform into the production process, enabling the team at Local Motors to connect automobile digital design information to the 3D printer for a streamlined process, which includes quality visualization tools.
“Local Motors recognizes the capabilities of the Spark platform for industrial manufacturing projects,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Autodesk. “This collaboration is a natural fit to push the boundaries of large format 3D printing to fundamentally change how things are designed and made.”
Local Motors intends to eventually begin selling their 3D printed cars, and feels that the Spark platform would be perfect in helping them reach those long term goals. This will be Autodesk’s first industrial application of its open source platform, one which should give the company a boost in convincing other companies to follow suit.
Let’s hear your thoughts on this interesting collaboration, in the Local Motors/Spark 3D printing forum thread on 3DPB.com
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