Arizona-based Local Motors is aiming to become the first to bring a 3D-printed electric car to market. The LM3D Swim is a demonstration of the speed at which additive manufacture can bring ideas into reality, as well as showing off Local Motors' production ethos of "form over function." The functional chassis of the car is able to be "skinned" with any number of body concepts to give it all sorts of visual character – and since the car is 3D-printed, one-off body shapes are not a problem.
We’ve seen Local Motors at various international trade shows now, displaying a number of 3D-printed electric car concepts, such as the Strati. But now it seems the company is ready to take something to market.
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The LM3D Swim is inspired by the work of designer Kevin Lo, a Local Motors community member who took out the company’s recent Project Redacted challenge. Local Motors has adapted Lo’s design for production using bits and pieces, like electric windows and windshields, from the Mazda Miata convertible, with the process from design to finished prototype taking just two months.
The electric drivetrain of the car includes a core of battery cells that run up the middle of the body that are protected from road impacts by some 4 inches (10 cm) of underside hull. It appears Local Motors has generously decided not to include the original design's outward facing party speakers – an act of community service I think we can all appreciate.
Roughly 75 percent of the LM3D Swim will be 3D printed, including the body panels and chassis, using some sort of composite ABS plastic/carbon fiber material that’s yet to be finalized. Eventually, Local Motors hopes to be printing as much as 90 percent of the car.
The LM3D Swim is a kind of beach buggy design, but Local Motors also plans to release a Sport version that keeps the same chassis and side designs, but replaces the front and back ends with totally different pieces to completely overhaul the look of the car.
The plan is to expand the LM3D series throughout 2016 as the Local Motors pursues federal crash testing and highway certifications. These will possibly be based on the same chassis to further demonstrate what a huge difference can be made by using different body shell. All vehicles in the series will be constructed at the company's new microfactory that is currently under construction in Knoxville, Tennesse, and is due to be completed by the end of the year.
Presales of the LM3D series will begin in 2016, with a targeted price of US$53,000 and an expected delivery date in 2017. Eager buyers can place a deposit via a crowdfunding campaign set to begin in Q2 2016, with wider retail purchase slated for later in 2016.
You can check out the company's construction process in the video below.
Source: Local Motors