Steel stamping and production lines? That's so last-year--what you really want is a 3D printed car.
The concept is nothing new, but finding a printer big enough to deal with car panels isn't an easy tax. It's one Local Motors will surmount later this year though, when it 3D prints an electric vehicle in just five days, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. The company is no stranger to the show, having built an entire Rally Fighter off-roader at the show back in 2012, over the event's six days. But 3D printing a car presents entirely different challenges.
The stunt is designed to show how advanced manufacturing techniques can deliver a stronger, safer, faster and more efficient vehicle. Like the Rally Fighter, Local Motors' printed electric vehicle is the product of co-created design, combining ideas from a host of different sources. It remains to be seen how Local Motors produces its car at the show, and how many components will actually be printed there and then--but the vehicle will apparently be "purpose-built for the urban transportation needs of Chicago". Other than its electric nature, details of the powertrain have not yet been revealed.
The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) will be the first customer for the vehicle, which praises Local Motors for its disruptive take on manufacturing and design. "The innovations they are driving in the design, manufacture and sale of vehicles has been empowering individual innovators since 2007," adds AMT. The eventual vehicle aims to deliver a sustainable, green product, one that reduces production cost but also creates job opportunities. And hopefully, like the Rally Fighter, a vehicle that's striking to look at and fun to drive--as ultimately, it needs to be a product that people want to buy.