World's First 3D Printed Car Is Electric, Plastic & Fantastic

Is there a 3D printed car in your future? Local Motors thinks so and their showcase auto, the carbon-reinforced ABS plastic Strati roadster, underlines the fact the future begins right now.

The racy red-upholstered Strati was the undisputed star attraction at the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show held in Chicago, IL. Built using The Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine employing so-called “additive technology” at a deposition rate of approximately 18 kg (about 40 lbs) per hour, the Strati's component parts took just 44 hours to print out. A further 4 days were required for Local Motors' human engineers to put the pieces together... pick up the pace, puny humans!

Fitted out with an electric powertrain sourced from a Renault Twizy, the Strati is more than ready for prime time. Indeed, the finished vehicle is fully functional and as shown at the IMTS, ready to roll – up to 193 km (120 miles) on a full charge – at the turn of a key. It drives as sporty as it looks as well, with a maximum speed of 65 km/h or 40 mph.

“The Strati was designed by our community, made in our Microfactory, and will be driven by you,” states Local Motors' CEO John B. Rogers, Jr. “This brand new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo, changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way.” A car is born? Hey, it worked for Streisand.

Beyond the WOW factor of “printing” a drivable automobile, the Strati is living proof 3D printing has evolved from a desktop novelty to a bona-fide industrial manufacturing process... and Local Motors aims to put the latter into practice sooner rather than later.

The company predicts refinements in the assembly process will cut post-printing time from 4 days to just 2, and once a reasonably number of completed cars is built up they're planning to launch a nationwide retail blitz. As for parts, who needs a fully stocked parts inventory when any needed part can be 3D printed on demand?