Local Motors are creating the first 3D-printable road-ready car. The company aims to retail the model by the end of 2016, and have it on the roads by 2017.
The chassis and body of the LM3D was printed in one go in less than two days, and an electric motor made it driveable at its launch in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show. About 75% of the model is printed using a 80:20 plastic:carbon-fibre blend, with as much as possible in a single piece.
The design was selected from 62 entries by a judging panel, and went from drawing board to prototype in two months.
Local Motors has a business model of allowing customers to interact with the design, parts and tools, and actually build the model themselves.
This is facilitated by ‘micro-factories’ where the Local Motors team physically work with the customer.
Image credit: Creative Tools / Flickr
The LM3D is not the first 3D-printed car; what is novel is distributed car manufacturing which includes customers in the 3D-printing and assembly. Micro-factories are able to have smaller resource footprints than large scale manufacturing plants, reducing waste with production on demand and reduced transportation. Local Motors is leading the way in rolling out this sustainable approach to car manufacture.
The aim is to have 90% of the vehicle 3D-printed and to integrate the engineering with technology and the internet of things, potentially creating a safer, more traffic-efficient and more connected car.
Could the internet of things bring 3D-printing into the quest for urban transport solutions and autonomous cars?
Previous enterprises by Local Motors, such as the Rally Fighter which can be built at home but starts at $99,900, are the preserve of wealthy enthusiasts. It is unlikely that the LM3D will be affordable to anyone other than rich technophiles.
Is distributed 3D-printing of car manufacture scalable beyond the boutique level?
How long will we have to wait until drops in the price of 3D-printing and improvements in the technology allow us to download cars and build them in our garage?
Forbes (November 13, 2015) World’s first 3D-printed road ready car