3D Printing is all the rage these days, so it’s no surprise someone has printed a complete and functional electric automobile, appropriately named the Strati (Italian for “layers”). 18 months ago, Phoenix Arizona company Local Motors teamed up with Cincinnati Incorporated to develop a neighborhood electric car. The project is open source; members are encouraged to share their vehicle design ideas, which are then produced and perfected by the community. The components are then printed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. French automaker Renault produces the electric car battery, motor and suspension. The two seater has a top speed of 40mph and a range of 120 miles.
Italian Michele Anoe’s design was chosen for the first car. The first test drive took place on Sept 13, 2014 (see video). Since then, the printing process has been demonstrated at both the International Manufacturing Technology show in Chicago, and the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Printing all 800 kilos of thermoplastic components currently takes 44 hours to complete, followed by three days of milling and assembling. Plans are to decrease the printing time to less than 12 hours by the time manufacturing begins at the end of 2015. A futuristic ikea-like microfactory at the National Harbor in Maryland is planned as soon as the appropriate zoning laws are passed.
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First Test Ride
One day, in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to walk into a car dealership, choose a design — including the number of seats — and have a 3D printed car by the end of the day.
The Internal Strut Frame has an innovative design that uses vertical struts to support the upper surfaces, saving weight and making a sturdy frame/body.
The Aeroblade also employs an innovative use of vertical structures to support external surfaces, catering to the inability of current 3D printing processes to bridge horizontal gaps.
By incorporating simplicity and innovation via smart design and smart deployment of vehicle features, the 3DPCX brings the openness of the road inside the vehicle.
The LM Supernova incorporates interior design elements that are not only innovative and well thought out, but highly functional and lightweight.
The Mirage took an innovation award for incorporating layers to create 3D printed “crumple zones,” which is not only unique, but also very innovative.
The e-spider’s roof design and windshield connections, as well as the incorporation of shielding accessories to allow for use in severe weather, showed a great combination of innovation and practicality.
What do you think? Are 3D printed cars really in our near future?