An Arizona-based start-up called Local Motors has taken the world by storm with its announcement of the world’s first 3-D printed car which the company claims will be ready for production by 2016. The company will put out two models of the ReLoad Redacted car on the roads by next year.
The design for the vehicle came from 39-year-old Kevin Lo who took part in Local Motors’ crowdsourcing 3D community contest to design a road-ready vehicle. Mechanical engineer Lo won first prize from amongst 60 entries and was awarded $7,500 for the design called ‘Reload Redacted – Swim and Sport,’ a transformable sports car that can work either like a regular car or a beach buggy.
Speaking about their latest project, John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors said, “At Local Motors, we are hell-bent on revolutionizing manufacturing. 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 (Direct Digital Manufacturing). This process will create better and safer products, and we are doing exactly that.”
The design relies on a skateboard-style chassis that houses the motor, batteries, suspension, and steering components. The car will also include external speakers, removable front and rear as well as roof panels to allow easy switching. More research on the car comes via collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory known for stereo lithography and other pioneers of 3D printing technology.
Since 3D printing is much easier than setting up regular, full-fledged, expensive manufacturing units with assembly lines, and even better, customizable, the car can be produced in low-infrastructure compact factories. In the words of Roger, “Micro-factories are a great counterpoint because they employ an economy of scope by taking advantage of low-cost tooling and co-creation, resulting in the ability to get products to market faster and in less time while using less capital to find a winning concept.”
Local Motors has announced that initially both versions – ReLoad Swim and ReLoad Sport – will be low-speed battery cars with a price tag between $18,000 and $30,000. The full-speed version compliant with all federal safety standards will follow soon after.