Tag Archives: Local Motors

The first road-ready 3D-printed vehicle will be here soon

Local Motors has introduced what will become the first drivable, 3D-printed car you can buy: the LM3D Swim.

Less than four months after revealing designs for the next-generation 3D-printed car, Local Motors has unveiled the LM3D Swim — their latest rapid vehicle iteration that’ll become the first fully-homologated, 3D-printed automobile to hit the streets.

LM 3D swim

Earlier this year, the Phoenix-based company held a contest that encouraged people to come up with designs for the first road-ready 3D-printed car. Auto enthusiast Kevin Lo was the brainchild of the winning submission, LM3D, which had been selected among 200 other entries.

Local Motors opened the eyes of the automotive industry when it stole the SEMA spotlight back in 2014 by live-printing the world’s first 3D-printed car. Carrying that momentum, the team has now entered the intensive testing and development phases that will culminate with a highway-ready, fully-homologated series of cars built using direct digital manufacturing, of which 3D printing will play an integral role.

fenders being printed

Roughly 75% of the LM3D will be printed, including the body panels and chassis. However, Local Motors is hoping to consolidate as much of the traditional bill of materials into a single, 3D-printed piece as possible, eventually making about 90% of the car using 3D printing. Making it even more impressive, migrating from design to prototype was accomplished at unprecedented speed. The process took just over two months, start to finish.

“In the past few months our engineers have moved from only a rendering to the car you see in front of you today,” Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers told the crowd at SEMA. “We are using the power of DDM to create new vehicles at a pace unparalleled in the auto industry, and we’re thrilled to begin taking orders on 3D-printed cars next year.”

Software from Siemens enabled the Local Motors team to move quickly from concept to car with the simplicity of direct modeling and flexibility of synchronous technology. Meanwhile, materials used to build the body of LM3D Swim came from thermoplastic material solutions provider SABIC.

LM 3D swim4

Cutting-edge technology will be integrated into all models in the LM3D series. Local Motors recently partnered with IBM to create interactions between the microfactory, 3D-printed vehicles, their drivers and the outside environment in ways never achieved before. These technologies will result in increased safety and efficiency in traffic. Local Motors also plans to utilize several leading IoT companies to develop and launch a series of apps and vehicle products to connect, monitor and optimize the driving experience.

Want a 3D-printed vehicle of your own? You won’t have to wait too long. Local Motors plans to release several new models in the LM3D series throughout 2016 while it conducts federal crash testing and receives the necessary highway certifications. Those wishing to buy one will have to be ready to shell out roughly $53,000. The first batch of vehicles won’t be delivered, though, until 2017.

Local Motors plans to begin selling 3D-printed cars next year

Local Motors will be releasing two models of the ReLoad Redacted car in Q1 2016 at a price tag of $18,000 to $30,000. 

If it’s up to Local Motors, not only will the vehicles of tomorrow be autonomous, they’re going to be 3D-printed as well. That’s because the Phoenix-based company, who introduced the first 3D-printed automobile (the Strati) back in September 2014, has unveiled the electric car that it plans to sell next year. The design for the coupe was chosen by the company’s crowdsourcing community and a panel of well-known judges from among 60 other entries. Among the judges in the contest was former “Tonight Show” host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno, who said “You need something that makes you go ‘what’s that?’”


The winning entry, named Reload Redacted Swim and Sport, was submitted by mechanical engineer Kevin Lo, who envisions a reconfigurable, low-speed neighborhood car. Set to debut during the first quarter of 2016, it will be priced in the wheelhouse of $18,000 and $30,000, with a fully-homologated highway-ready version to follow towards the tail-end of next year. Lo, who works for Hewlett-Packard on advanced printer systems, received $7,500 plus royalties from future sales for his mockup.

“In addition to its revolutionary design, the entry showcases many benefits of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), including the ability to create a completely customizable vehicle. What’s more, its design boasts a flexible foundation that can support many different styles and technology options,” Local Motors writes.

According to Lo, Reload Redacted – Swim and Sport has some clear benefits over Local Motors’ original 3D-printed car. For instance, any part can be easily removed, reprinted and replaced in the event of an accident. Having chose form over function, the vehicle is built around a skateboard-style chassis that houses the powertrain, battery, steering and suspension. What’s more, both redacted versions feature external speakers for the audio system, and interchangeable front, rear and roof panels to accommodate different styles. The target audience for such a vehicle will be the “social, outgoing, adventurous type,” Lo notes.

The battery technology in the test platform, which will also serve as a base for the development of the 3D-printed car’s powertrain, employs the same lithium ion chemistry used in existing electric vehicles (as well as iPhones). Local Motors is already working to identify numerous cutting-edge battery options, such as exploring lithium sulfur battery technology, which creates three times the energy at half the weight of lithium ion technology.

Meanwhile, the company has launched a program it calls the Local Motors Co-Created (LOCO) University Vehicles. Three colleges have already signed up to participate: the University of Michigan, Arizona State University and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Several projects will focus on developing an autonomous vehicle.

“Think Uber, but with low-speed, autonomous cars,” explained Ed Olson, an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at University of Michigan, who leads the project. “The goal of this program is for us to begin to understanding the challenges of a transportation-on-demand system built around autonomous cars.”

China’s first 3D-printed car hits the road

A Chinese company has just completed a 3D-printed car for $1,770.

Hot off the heels of Local Motors, Sanya Sihai has created China’s first 3D-printed car: a bright orange electric-powered sedan. If you recall, the Chinese company previously developed the world’s first fully-functional boat last August, a two-meter long vessel capable of accommodating two passengers.


The road-ready vehicle took a month and a half to complete, with the printing portion of the process requiring just five days — which is more than twice as long as the Strati’s 44-hour fabrication time. In total, the team says it only cost $1,770 to manufacture.


The frame of the rechargeable battery-powered two-seater was printed using a composite material, then combined with traditionally manufactured components. Its distinctive color is the result of the Tyrant Gold filament used to construct the car’s body. Weighing approximately 500kg when all was said and done, the electric Shuya is capable of reaching speeds up to 24mph.

Intrigued? Watch the car as it hits the streets of the Hainan province in southern China.

3D-printed cars shine at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

3D printing is allowing carmakers to go from concept to completion in just days.

According to latest reports, the use of 3D printing in the auto industry is expected to quintuple over the next five years to a value north of $1.25 billion, up from just $267 million today. This comes after history was made last year when the world’s first 3D-printed car drove out of Chicago’s McCormick Place during the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show. Well, the Local Motors crew is back at it again, this time 3D printing the main structure of a car right on the 2015 North American International Auto Show floor.


The Strati is first-ever 3D-printed vehicle and is a refinement of a design created by Michele Anoè, who submitted the concept as part of an online co-creation community project. The initial Strati models began printing today in Detroit in an example of what the company dubs a micro-factory, a lab that is typically located within 100 miles of major urban centers, creates more than 100 local jobs, reduces freight and distribution costs by 97%, increases recycling and reduces waste while speeding delivery time to market. The first two will be opened in Knoxville, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

“Gone are the days of an economy of scale in order to introduce and commercialize a technology,” explained Local Motors CEO John B. Rogers, Jr. “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.”

Throughout the two-weeklong event, Local Motors showed off its proprietary manufacturing process for 3D-printing cars, which consists of three phases: additive, subtractive and rapid assembly. Made from ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fiber provide by SABIC, the current model of the Strati takes approximately 44 hours to print 212 layers. And while it won’t hit Formula 1-like speeds anytime soon, the two-seater can reach 25 miles per hour.


The end result is a completed 3D-printed Car Structure™. Once 3D printing is complete, the 3D-printed Car Structure moves to a Thermwood CNC router that mills the finer details. After a few hours of milling, the Strati’s exterior details take shape. Finally, the Car Structure is printed and refined, while the non 3D-printed components like the drivetrain, electrical components, gauges, wiring and tires are added. A vinyl wrapping, paint or other surface treatment is used to complement the 3D-printed texture, resulting in a showroom-ready vehicle.

While the company may not be ready to talk definite price just yet (which will most likely sell for $18,000 to $30,000), it does want to shorten the production process from just under two days to a day. CEO Jay Rogers notes that the Strati is first of three vehicles Local Motors plans to sell, with the current model launching this year.


However, as impressive as they may be, the first batch of printed cars will be categorized more like golf carts as “neighborhood electric vehicles.” Yet, the company does intend on offering a ride that can be driven on all roads in the U.S over the next two years. This, of course, will first require passing safety requirements set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including crash tests.

“We like to think of it as Build-A-Bear, mashed up with Ikea, mashed up with Formula One,” Rogers recently told the New York Times.

Strati isn’t the only 3D-printed vehicle shining in the NAIAS spotlight, as the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has also debuted a fully-functional 3D-printed Shelby Cobra. The car, which honors the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra 289 FIA, weighs 1,400 pounds, with nearly a third of the parts used on the vehicle having been printed in just 24 hours.


From concept to completion, the team took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby, including the 24 hours of print time. The new Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, jointly developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated, can construct components 500 to 1000 times faster than today’s industrial additive machines. ORNL researchers say the speed of next-gen additive manufacturing offers new opportunities for the automotive industry, especially in prototyping vehicles.

“You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks,” explained Lonnie Love, ORNL Senior Research Scientist. “You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed. There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.”

Print my ride! Your next car will be 3D-printed in less than two days

History was made when the world’s first 3D-printed car drove out of Chicago’s McCormick Place during the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show back in September. The vehicle components took 44 hours to print, and after a swift assembly, the vehicle named “Strati” headed off the showroom floor.


The brainchild of Local Motors, Stratri was produced in one piece using direct digital manufacturing (DDM), the first time this method has been used to make a car. Obviously, mechanical components like batteries, motor and wiring were still come from third party sources; while the seats, body, chassis, dash, center console, and hood were all 3D-printed. And not only will Strati be the world’s first 3D-printed car, it’ll also be the first car that you can download and print yourself. Sorry, car salespeople!

“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,” explained John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO of Local Motors.

The technology behind the Strati was pioneered at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Local Motors is hoping the Strati proves the viability of using sustainable, digital manufacturing solutions in the automotive industry, and plans to launch production-level 3D-printed cars that will be available to the general public for purchase in the months following the show.


“This project represents the unique opportunity DOE’s National Laboratory System offers to the industry, to collaborate in an open environment to deliver fast, innovative, manufacturing solutions. These partnerships are pushing the envelope on emerging technologies, such as large scale additive manufacturing, and accelerating the growth of manufacturing in the United States,” revealed Craig Blue, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Program and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.

In 2010, 3D printing company Stratasys and engineering firm Kor Ecologic unveiled the Urbee at the 2010 SEMA car show in Las Vegas. The Urbee featured a 3D-printed shell mounted on a more traditional metal chassis.


Rather the print dozens of smaller sub-assemblies and screwing, gluing or bolting them together, the concept car features a main body structure built up as a single module using a BAAM Machine (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) with a deposition rate of 40 pounds per hour.

The Strati is printed by stacking down layer after layer (212 layers in total) of a combination of filament comprised of 80% ABS plastic and 20% carbon fiber reinforcement. The three-axis printer then melts these materials and forms them to the vehicle’s mold.

AMT’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Communications Peter Eelman claims, “This feature returned IMTS to its roots as a forum where the latest technologies are first seen. This year is no exception, and we are confident that this will be the most exciting ETC effort yet.” It is hard to argue with that! Imagine two decades from now simply clicking ‘print’ on your home manufacturing machine and having a new set of wheels assembled in front of your eyes!

Rogers believes Local Motors could start manufacturing vehicles by 2015, with initial use on city streets, before getting approval for highway use down the road. The initial retail cost for a vehicle will start around $17,100 and go upwards of $30,000.

The engine consists of a 12-kW electric motor powered by a 6.1-kwh battery. With roughly 3.5-hour charge, a driver can expect a 62-mile range. Sorry speed demons, but the top speed of the Strati is 40mph.

“Because you can literally print the car any way you want, if your family goes from two people to three–with a child, you trade in and recycle the center part of your car and all the components that outfit the family. Whatever you can imagine is what this process can entail,” said Rogers.

Now, less than two months after both the International Manufacturing Technology Show and World Maker Faire, the team behind the first 3D-printed car is presenting at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. There, they will yet again construct a Strati car before a live audience; however, this time it’ll be printed and assembled in its entirety two full days faster than the original.

Just announced, Local motors will be also be giving away 12 3D-printed vehicles to car nodders as part of their new ‘pimp’ the car ‘ModMen’ Challenge. The contest opens for entries in late January 2015, with the dozen winning design proposals to be announced in March and delivery of the 3D-printed cars to winning teams beginning in May.

“From racing, to street, to show, car modification has always been the true soul of vehicle innovation,” Rogers added. “At Local Motors, our goal is to fuel the next great generation of ‘Hot Rodders’ by putting the newest technology in their hands, and the ModMen Challenge does exactly that. These are not just 12 cars customized with aftermarket parts, but a peek into the future of automotive re-imagination. I cannot wait to see how this group pushes the boundary of 3D-printed cars.”


Now you can 3D print your own (mini) car

Earlier this month, the crew over at Local Motors made history by successfully building (and driving) the world’s first 3D-printed car all within a 44-hour window at the International Manufacturing Technology Show. The highly-popular vehicle even made its way to the World Maker Faire, where AVR Man himself had the chance to scope out the new set of wheels.


The technology behind the Strati was pioneered at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The vehicle was produced all in one piece using direct digital manufacturing (DDM); however, the mechanical components such as batteries, motor and wiring were still needed from third party sources.

In total, it took 44 hours to print the drivable project’s 49 parts from the massive 3D printer. During the IMT show, the Local Motors team assembled the printed pieces, dropped in the engine and bolted on wheels, tires, seats, windshield, and interior. (For those wondering, your average car consists of anywhere between 5,000 to 6,000 parts.)

Local Motors is hoping the Strati will continue to demonstrate the viability of using sustainable, digital manufacturing solutions in the automotive industry, and plans to launch production-level 3D-printed cars that will be available to the general public for purchase in the forthcoming months.

Until then, the company has unveiled the next best thing. In true open source fashion, Local Motors has released the downloadable file so that any Maker can now print an accurate 1:10 scale model of the Strati in the comfort of their own home — wheels, steering shaft, suspension, pedal box and all.


Local Motors has requested that those who 3D print the miniature Strati model share an image of the final product with them.