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Lo­cal Mo­tors in­tro­duce the world’s first 3D-printed ve­hi­cle at Detroit Auto Show

The Witness - Wheels - - SUPPLEMENTS - AL­WYN VILJOEN

TWO 3D-printed cars showed the very dif­fer­ent face of car man­u­fac­tur­ing at last week’s Detroit Auto Show.

Lo­cal Mo­tors printed and as­sem­bled an en­tire ve­hi­cle on the event’s show floor, while the Oak Ridge Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory (ORNL) showed a vin­tage 1965 Shelby Cobra they had 3D-printed in six weeks.

Lo­cal Mo­tors called their 3D car the Strati, say­ing it was the first in a line of 3D-printed cars from Lo­cal Mo­tors. The de­sign was cho­sen in May 2014 from more than 200 sub­mit­ted to Lo­cal Mo­tors by the company’s on­line co-cre­ation com­mu­nity after launch­ing a call for en­tries.

The win­ning de­sign was sub­mit­ted by Michele Anoè, who was awarded a cash prize plus the op­por­tu­nity to see his de­sign brought to life.

“Since launch­ing in 2007, we have con­tin­u­ously dis­rupted the way ve­hi­cles are de­signed, built, and sold,” said Lo­cal Mo­tors Co-founder and CEO John B. Rogers Jr. “We paired mi­cro-man­u­fac­tur­ing with cocre­ation to bring ve­hi­cles to mar­ket at un­prece­dented speed.

“We proved that an on­line com­mu­nity of in­no­va­tors can change the way ve­hi­cles go from de­signed to driven. We pi­o­neered the con­cept of us­ing di­rect dig­i­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing (DDM) to 3D-print cars. I am proud to have the world’s first 3D-printed car be a part of our al­ready im­pres­sive port­fo­lio of ve­hi­cles.”

It’s a “Three-Phase Process: Print, Re­fine, Fin­ish”.

The Cobra printed by ORNL fol­lowed the same steps.

“You can print out a work­ing ve­hi­cle in a mat­ter of days or weeks,” says Lon­nie Love, leader of ORNL’s Man­u­fac­tur­ing Sys­tems Re­search group in their me­dia hand­out.

Thanks to 228 kg of very light 3D-printed parts con­tain­ing 20% car­bon fi­bre, the Cobra weighs only 635 kg.

The car was built at the U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy’s Man­u­fac­tur­ing Demon­stra­tion Fa­cil­ity at ORNL us­ing the Big Area Ad­di­tive Man­u­fac­tur­ing (BAAM) ma­chine de­vel­oped by ORNL and Cincin­nati In­cor­po­rated. ORNL says that this de­vice can print ob­jects larger than a cu­bic me­tre in vol­ume 500 to 1 000 times faster than cur­rent in­dus­trial ad­di­tive prin­ters.

ORNL said the 3D print­ing part of the de­sign and fin­ish­ing process took 36 hours, of which a day was spent print­ing the Cobra’s parts, eight hours went into print­ing the tooling compo- nents, and four into ma­chin­ing the body­work to ready it for paint.

Love said the 3D-printed Shelby dis­penses with the cur­rent de­sign process of draw­ings, CAD ren­der­ings, scale clay mod­els, con­cepts, and pro­to­types. In­stead de­sign­ers can go straight from CAD to work­ing parts ve­hi­cle that can be as­sem­bled in a very short time in a rolling lab­o­ra­tory to test new au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy.

PHO­TOS: GIZ­MAG.COM

The 3D-printed Shelby Cobra.

Lay­ers up close: The body parts of the 3D-printed Cobra is made from a pow­der con­tain­ing 20% car­bon fi­bre, mak­ing the car very light yet strong.

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