Could ‘3D printing’ be the future of motoring? Perhaps not, but the technology could easily be a major personalisation option for the next generation of cars - just ask any of its diehard early-adopter fans.
American outfit Local Motors is quickly building a name for itself as an innovative ‘outside the box’ operation, counting ‘crowd-sourced’ sports cars and custom-designed pizza delivery vehicles among its quirky creations.
Now, the company has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first 3D-printed car, the ‘Strati’, its body created in just 44 hours from a mix of plastic and carbon fibre.
The entire process was carried out in public view, ‘printed’ in a giant machine at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.
The Strati was conceived by independent designer Michele Anoe, who beat out more than 200 entrants from 30 countries for the honour and took a US$5000 prize in the process.
The car’s body is made up of 212 layers of carbon fibre-reinforced ABS plastic, and it’s that layering that gives the Strati’s skin its ‘topographical map’ looks.
The company says that every facet that could be 3D printed, has been. That includes the frame, exterior body, and interior features.
Power for the Strati is provided by an electric motor mated a single-speed automatic transmission.
Performance figures haven’t been revealed, but with just 13kW and 57Nm on offer, it’s not likely to be a real mover.
And if those figures sound familiar, there’s a reason: the Strati sources its powertrain from the compact Renault Twizy, an electric ‘quadricycle’ offered in Europe (and now in the middle of promo work here in Australia).
Local Motors says it intends to make the Strati available for purchase, and has made a mailing list available to those interested in owning a 3D-printed car.