Skip to main content

Forget miles of assembly lines. Local Motors is now 3D-printing cars

Crowdsourcing carmaker Local Motors may be best known for the V8-powered, dune-conquering Rally Fighter, but for its next project, the company has ventured completely to the other end of the spectrum.

Like the automotive firm projected in March, Local Motors is currently building a 3D-printed electric car at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.

Related: Local Motors’ 3D-printed electric car to become a reality in Chicago

According to Top Gear, the electric car is called the Strati, and is full-sized, completely drivable, and is made up of just 40 parts. For comparison’s sake, the average car has something on the order of 30,000.

This amazing feat of engineering was made possible by 3D-printing technology that takes just 44 hours to create the car. If everything goes well, Local Motors hopes to drive the Strati off the technology show’s floor.

The automotive firm released a video recently detailing the vehicle’s assembly process. The time-lapse really is quite astounding, as the Strati isn’t so much assembled as it is grown.

Local Motors Strati
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A robotic sprayer meticulously sprays out an amalgam of carbon fiber and plastic to fill in the bodywork, supports, seats, dashboard, and even the windshield.

The 3D printer can’t cover every part of the car, though, so the electric powertrain (sourced from a Renault Twizy), suspension, wiring, and battery were borrowed from outside sources.

Like the Rally Fighter, Local Motors’ Strati was born from a community-based design collaboration. Italian Michele Anoé submitted the winning layout, winning a $5,000 prize in the process.

Local Motors was previously quoted as saying the car will be “purpose-built for the urban transportation needs of Chicago,” and the company “hopes to have it on the streets in the months following the show.”

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Hard
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Andrew first started writing in middle school and hasn't put the pen down since. Whether it's technology, music, sports, or…
Where are they now? A look back at last year’s Top Tech of CES winners
iotatrax hands on 2 press

CES is all about the coolest new products ready to rock our worlds in the near future. However, with all the fuss being made about what awaits us in 2019, it can be too easy to forget about the gadgets, innovations, and assorted announcements that turned our collective heads back at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Here’s what happened to the 14 prize-winners we considered our personal picks of last year’s CES.
Kate Spade Scallop Android Wear smartwatch

Read more
Watch as Bugatti torture-tests a 3D-printed titanium brake caliper
Bugatti 3D-printed caliper

Testing the world's first 3D printed brake caliper

Bugatti doesn't do anything normally.

Read more
Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts
Ford Advanced Manufacturing Center

Set to be unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the latest Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang will be a throwback. It won't have a fancy hybrid system or even one of Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost engines -- just good old fashioned V8 muscle. But the GT500 will boast some modern touches, in the form of 3D-printed parts.

Ford's new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan, will 3D print brake parts for the GT500, according to a press release from the automaker. The facility will also 3D print an interior part for Chinese-market versions of the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck.

Read more