If Arizona-based Local Motors bet right, future automobile purchases will be less about going to a show room to pick your model and color and more about visiting a local “factory” to order up your personally built choice on the spot.
At NAIAS 2015, Local Motors is printing out, displaying and demonstrating its new Strati, a 3D printed car set to be produced on demand at the company’s “micro factory” site. According to Local Motors, the first stage of the Strati’s manufacturing process requires 44 hours of AI-guided 3D printing time. Once printed, 212 layers of the ABS plastic is reinforced with carbon fiber.
Then, the edges are smoothed and refined to complete the 3D printing process. Finally, human hands add essential components such as the engine, electrics, tires, etc.
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The final product (above) resembles a sporty, futuristic dune buggy of sorts, so the Strati would most likely serve best as a warm climate local ride. There’s no clear word from Local Motors yet how it will be powered, when it will be available for purchase or what its purchase price will be. All we know for now is its designers are looking to make certain the car is road legal in 2015. While Local Motors isn’t taking official orders yet, would-be buyers can sign up for updates as when they can place their requests.
The car was fully printed and constructed as a test model at this year’s North American International Auto Show. Visitors in Detroit can take an indoor test ride at the downtown convention center.
While 3D printing was all the rage at CES 2014, the fuss died down in Las Vegas for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The concept of on-demand manufacturing is making its comeback on the floor of NAIAS 2015 as Local Motors proposes a future when we’ll all simply order up the car we want and have it “built” for us in a couple of days. We’ll have to see one out on the road first before auto buyers can take such a leap.