After a grueling process of simplifying car design and manufacturing, Local Motors has given us Strati, an electric two-seater that’s known to be the world’s first 3D-printed car. The American motor vehicle manufacturing company unveiled its newest creation last September at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.
So how’d they do it? Strati’s body and chassis components were printed in ABS (carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic) and the car has a maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h). The company sourced Strati’s mechanical components (batteries, motor) from Renault’s Twizy. Here’s another thing that makes Strati remarkable and sustainable: it’s comprised of only 49 parts. Compare that to the usual automobile that’s made up of around 5,000 parts and the margin is astronomical. It’s not yet allowed on highways, but Local Motors is driven to achieve its goal of making the car drivable on public roads by the end of 2015.
Local Motors didn’t come up with Strati’s design; they encouraged their community to flex their creative muscles and create a workable vehicle design that fits the company’s production technique (a combination of subtractive machining and 3D printing). All told, they got over 200 submissions.
After selecting a design, Local Motors set their sights on finding a company that could print the car. They found a partner in Oak Ridge Labs, which retrofitted their large laser printer with a 3D extruder. Another collaborator, Thermwood Corp., refined Strati’s overall look with its manufacturing routing machine. It took around 44 hours to print the car, and another full day to polish it to perfection.
As of now, Strati sells at a price comparable to a full-sized sedan. However Local Motors believes that it can be made affordable by 2016, with prices ranging from $18,000 to $34,000.