Local Motors made a big splash last fall with the unveiling of the world’s first 3D printed car, the Strati. While wondering the show floor at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), I came across their booth:
It was quite a bit different than all the other booths at the auto show due to one main reason:
they were actually making a car on the show floor!
How were they doing it? 3D printing, of course!
Using a Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine built by Cincinnati Incorporated (basically a 3D printer the size of my garage), they were printing the body of the Strati over the course of 44 hours to print each of the 212 layers that made up the complete body.
The material they were printing with is ABS plastic that has been fortified with carbon fibre and was incredibly strong and durable. The nozzle being used was 10x the size I use in my desktop 3d printers but that also meant they could print fairly quickly, albeit rougher than I’m used to printing. But the finishing process uses epoxy and paint to get a smooth finish like on this bumper:
After the printing is finished, they move the body to another part of the booth for milling out a number of sections to receive the underlying chassis, lights, seats, etc.
My only regret was leaving Detroit before the end of the week when they were letting people drive the Strati on the test track at NAIAS.
Right beside the Local Motors press conference was the Oak Ridge National Laboratory space with something I definitely wasn’t expecting to see – a 3D printed & drivable Shelby Cobra:
Here’s the story of how the car was done:
The car itself was printed in only about 24 hours but the assembly and finishing work took weeks. It’s crazy to imagine that they decided to do this project back in November and had a fully drivable vehicle on the show floor in January in Detroit.
It’s definitely an exciting time in the 3D space.
See more photos from Detroit in my Local Motors Flickr Set