The acceleration of 3D printing means that even cars can be now printed. The Local Motors Strati 3D car was printed live at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2014 last week. The printing process took just 44 hours.
Strati was the result of the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge run by crowd-source automotive firm Local Motors. It was announced in June that the car's designer Michele Anoé had won the challenge, having seen off competition from more than 200 entrants in more than 30 countries. Anoé won a US$5,000 cash prize and the honor of seeing Strati be printed at IMTS.
"Local Motors has a long standing relationship with the Association For Manufacturing Technology who runs the International Manufacturing Technology Show," Kate Hartley of Local Motors told Gizmag. "Two years ago, the team at AMT invited Local Motors to build Local Motor's first crowdsourced vehicle, the Rally Fighter, over the 5-day show. This year, we decided to 3D-print a car."
Local Motors claims that Strati is the world's first 3D printed car, although the 2010 Urbee is one of a number of projects that might also stake a claim to that title. Local Motors argues, however, that the Urbee used only 3D printed panels and features, whilst relying on a standard internal structure. Every part of the the Strati that isn't "mechanically involved," it says, is 3D printed.
The company also claims that it is the first time that the main portion of a car has been printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing. Mechanical components, like the battery, motor, wiring and suspension, were sourced separately from a variety of suppliers and installed by the Local Motors team.
Local Motors tells Gizmag that the build process for the Strati has has three phases. First, the body is printed using a Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine from Cincinnati Inc. & Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Subtractive manufacturing is then carried out using a computer numerical control (CNC) routing machine and, finally, the printed portion of the vehicle is assembled with the additional components over a two day period. The car takes 44 hours to print, 1 day to mill and 2 days to assemble, making a 5 day build process in total.
"The Strati was designed by our community, [will be] made in our Microfactory and will be driven by you," says CEO of Local Motors John B. Rogers Jr. in a press release. "This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo, changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way."
The completed Strati was fully functional and was driven for the first time on the morning of Saturday 13th September. Local Motors says that the milestone is just the beginning of its 3D-printed vehicles. The printed Strati begins an international tour this week.
The video below shows a time-lapse of the Strati being printed.
Source: Local Motors