Airbus and Local Motors Create Startup to 3D Print For Ground and Air Mobility

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Airbus and Local Motors Industries (LMI) a digital vehicle manufacturer, recently partnered to create Neorizon, a micro-factory that hopes to build products at unprecedented speeds through co-creation and cutting-edge technology. It will initially provide disruptive and innovative products with an initial focus on local mobility and autonomy, that will be iterated regularly to match customers’ needs and preferences.
Essentially, what Neorizon will be doing, is 3D printing solutions for ground and air mobility, for example, urban cargo, drones, and autonomous creations. 3DPrint.com consulted Neorizon representatives about the new endeavor, and they suggested that the plan is to “focus on 3D printing as much as possible for future iteration, personalization, rework recyclability and localization.” They also emphasized that the aim will not be “to replicate existing modes of transportation nor will they go into mass production.”

This is the first partnership of its kind where a massive company is going all-in on the LMI direct digital manufacturing model and building a physical micro-factory together (looking into a 50/50 ownership). The factory itself will be twice the size of the current ones to create urban mobility products, providing Airbus access to quick research and development as well as innovative thinking, and also enhancing validation for the LMI process.

The project is still under wraps, but when asked what products will be prototyped, Neorizon representatives explained that “future products will stem from local problem statements that need an innovative approach and solution.” Adding that “this will initially focus on (urban) mobility (not necessarily constraint to transportation) but can also include finding solutions to problem statements coming from third parties, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), startups or even the local ecosystem.”
“Every local and state government is faced with challenges such as rapid urbanization and congestion, inefficient and pollutive transport, and ever-changing and evolving technology,” said Jay Rogers, CEO and founder of LM Industries. “Current transport infrastructure and existing mass manufacturing are too inflexible and capital intense to service evolving technology trends and changing consumer demands.”

The incipient joint undertaking will tackle some of the major issues Rogers talks about by bringing together the

Local Motors’ first shuttle solving mobility problems

flexibility of professional digital manufacturing and the expertise of one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense companies in a venture that will attempt to answer the world’s most pressing mobility and manufacturing concerns. With access to the technological innovations of both partners – such as LMI’s open, AV shuttle platform and Airbus’ positioning system for drones enabling easier and safer take-off and landing – Neorizon employees and customers can imagine and create solutions unforeseen to anyone else.

The entirety of Neorizon’s leadership team consists of strong commercial and financial insight from a variety of industries and countries able to tap into and draw from both LM Industries and Airbus’ innovation cultures.
The micro-factory and startup’s headquarters will be built at Airbus’ Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus near Munich, Germany, in conjunction with an Innovation Campus including a new Technical University of Munich site. Offering between 150 to 200 high tech jobs along with design and engineering apprenticeship opportunities for those still pursuing or without completed formal education.
“We’ve been working with LM Industries’ team at Local Motors since early 2016 when we realized the unique value proposition surrounding direct digital manufacturing and open-source design. Both parties recognized the commercial opportunities for pooling resources and expertise, specifically combining LM Industries’ digital manufacturing with Airbus’ materials expertise, metal 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and prototyping and serial production capabilities,” suggested Peter Weckesser, Digital Transformation Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.
As the partnership is still fairly new, it will take a bit of time before we hear talk about concrete prototypes or projects. In the past, Airbus cooperated with LMI on drones, holding a drone challenge in 2016 for which LMI provided the platform for engineers to create, print and evaluate their ideas–everything from the design phase all the way to actually building the prototypes. So it is safe to say that 3D printing is already part of a lot of their projects, and will continue along that line. Airbus representatives told 3DPrint.com that “they hope that the partnership with LMI will be a part of the larger drive to keep Airbus an innovative company and to give our world-class engineers the tools they need to rapidly follow up on their ideas.”
In regard to the mobility aspect, Airbus is open to other partners from different industries joining in to use the platform. Emphasizing that “the best way to understand this partnership is to focus less on what product will eventually be produced and more on how fast and efficient we can ideate and build prototypes.” In general, Neorizon will focus on the private sector however it is open to working together with the public sector as well.
“Together with our employees, shareholders, and leading mobility and innovation companies in Germany and abroad, we will address local mobility issues by rapidly producing concepts, prototypes, products, and solutions, in collaboration with the local technological ecosystem,” said Benjamin Queisser, CEO of Neorizon CEO.
We will have to wait to hear news about Neorizon. In the meantime, you can discuss this article and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.
[Images: Airbus and Local Motors Industries]

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