3D printing has been revolutionary in a number of fields, including healthcare, manufacturing, ammunitions and sensory aids; but now it looks set to be involved in creating the world’s first computer-printed car.
American company Local Motors has built the car, which is a combination of carbon fiber and plastic, in less than two days at the International Manufacturing Technology Show. Called the “Strati,” the car has a 48-volt electric drivetrain bolted to an aluminium subframe in the rear, with the seats printed into the tub and then padded.
The first 3D printed car had to be manufactured in four parts, because no existing 3D printer was big enough to handle the entire body. Although individual car parts, such as the electric engine, suspension, windshield, and tires have been printed before, this is the first time a car chassis has been printed in one piece, using 3D manufacturing.
Jay Rogers, cofounder and CEO of small-batch car company Local Motors figures the raw material to print a two-seater in carbon-reinforced plastic costs about $2,200. He adds, “There are 25,000 parts in a normal production car.” Local’s 3D-printed car, will use, by his count, about 64. “My vision is that this is disruptive innovation,” he says. “This is something we have to pay attention to.”