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Jordan Perch loves automotive innovation and that is his ultimate passion. He is managing the resourceful DMV.com and is an active contributor to numerous consumer and automotive blogs.

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Production-Ready 3D-Printed Car Unveiled By Local Motors

Posted October 08, 2015 6:00 AM by Jordan Perch

Automotive manufacturers are increasingly showing interest in 3D-printing technology, as a more cost-effective, practical, and environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional manufacturing methods. In recent years, 3D printing has been increasingly used at an industrial level, with car makers starting to see the great potential of the technology for automotive applications. Up until now, automakers have mostly used 3D-printing methods to manufacture specific parts for their concept of prototype vehicles, but it seems that this is about to change soon, with a start-up from Arizona recently announcing that it intends to start selling a 3D-printed car soon.


In a press release, the Phoenix-based Local Motors said that it will launch the world's first 3D-printed car next year, promising to revolutionize the car manufacturing process. In early 2016, the company will introduce two versions of the ReLoad Redacted car, which is the result of a challenge that invited the 3D-printing community to submit their designs for a highway-capable vehicle that would be entirely built through Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM). The contest was won by engineer Kevin Lo, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, and Local Motors says that it will launch two models of the vehicle, which will include a low-speed and a highway-capable version.


The low-speed neighborhood vehicle will be the first model to be offered for sale by Local Motors, costing between $18,000 and $30,000, whereas the second one will be a full-speed vehicle that will be introduced in late 2016. Both vehicles will be fully electric.


"At Local Motors, we are hellbent on revolutionizing manufacturing," said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. "Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years. We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM. This process will create better and safer products, and we are doing exactly that."


However, mass-produced 3D-printed cars are far from becoming a reality, with the fact that it takes much longer to build a car through additive manufacturing than through traditional methods, being one of the biggest obstacles they face. Product quality and safety are also some of the challenges that 3D-printed cars would have to overcome before this method can be considered a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing. Be that as it may, it's clear that the technology has an immense growth potential and global automakers are expected to increasingly embrace it in the future.


3D-printing manufacturing methods have many advantages over traditional automotive manufacturing processes, including the fact that they allow mass customization, they eliminate the need for producing the tools that are currently used for building cars, and they allow production of stronger, more complex components. What's more, it's more eco-friendly and energy efficient, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and considerably less waste created during the 3D-printing process compared to conventional processes.


According to a recent report from SmarTech Publishing, 3D printing in the auto industry is set to grow drastically in the following years, with analysts estimating that automotive applications of the technology will generate $1.1 billion by 2019.

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Re: Production-Ready 3D-Printed Car Unveiled By Local Motors

10/10/2015 8:03 PM

But can it self-drive?

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