The World’s First 3D Printed Car Built in just 44 hours, with 40-some parts, and, it’s electric!


Layer by layer, inch by inch, the world’s first 3D printed car appeared on the McCormick Place’s showroom floor as eager attendees at the International Manufacturing Technology Show watched in awe.

Printed in just 44 hours, the vehicle is paving the way in automotive technology, having been successfully fabricated from a computer design to a physical object. While mechanics have been using 3D printers to make replacement auto parts for years, a fully operational vehicle has never been printed — until now.

The project was launched 18 months ago by Local Motors, a company based in Phoenix, Arizona, asking for workable 3D-printed car designs. After receiving 200 submissions, they ultimately chose the design by Italian Michele Anoe, naming the vehicle Strati, which means layer in Italian. They eventually signed a partnership with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory back in January, who found a company to print the vehicle. Using the base of a large laser printer, retrofitted with a 3D extruder, initial printing tests took 140 hours to complete. Local Motors was able to bring that time down significantly to just 44 hours.

According to Local Motors, most cars have over 20,000 parts (depending what you consider parts), while the Strati has only 40.


Assembling the mechanical components.

The 2-seater electric car is printed in carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (ABS), with a range of between 100 to 120 miles and a max speed of 40mph. It’s referred to as a “neighborhood” car, since that top speed means it’s not ready, or legal, for highways yet. According to Local Motors, most cars have over 20,000 parts (depending what you consider parts), while the Strati has only 40. While the largest part of the car — the body — was printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing, some parts still can’t be. Mechanical components of the vehicle, including the battery, motor, wiring, and suspension were obtained from different sources, and rapidly assembled by a team of engineers over the course of four days at the tech show. The model built at the show is fitted with an electric motor, but the company notes that future models will be made with internal combustion engines that run on diesel or petrol, and other will be made with power trains that we haven’t even seen yet.

Local Motors plans to eventually sell Stratis for $18,000 to $30,000 in the coming months, with further testing needed before it can be put on the freeway. With continued testing, the company aims to reduce printing time to as few as 10 hours with highly customizable options. Just imagine the process of buying your next vehicle: you simply walk into a dealership, select a car design from a computer, and wait while your new car gets printed.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Tell Us What You Think ?

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments