A 3D Printed Car Is On Its Way

Local Motors, Inc. announced last week the winners of the first 3D Printed Car Design Challenge that was launched in April.

The challenge was launched to uncover concepts that will inform and influence the vehicle that will be printed live at IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014 in Chicago, Illinois, September 8 to 13, 2014.

More than 200 entries, representing submissions from over 30 countries, were submitted during the six-week challenge. After a weeklong voting period and review of all entries by an independent panel of expert judges, a total of seven designs were selected as winning concepts.

Local Motors said the winning concept, Strati, created by Michele Anoé of Italy, will highly inspire the full-size 3D printed prototype.

“It’s simple and clean, with character,” said challenge judge and MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis. “It has a nice style that really hangs together.”

Michele will receive a $5,000 cash award for his submission and will be invited to see his concept manufactured live in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center at the IMTS Show this September.

“There are three major challenges facing the auto industry today: Part count, weight, and the initial cost of tooling when creating and iterating on vehicles. The hybrid Direct Digital Manufacturing process stands to address all three of these,” said Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO. “When these hurdles are removed, we open the door to an exciting new era in automotive design and manufacturing possibilities.”

Local Motors also said six additional concepts were recognized for their innovation and popularity among the members of Local Motors’ global community. Some aspects of these designs may also be incorporated into the final prototype. The designers of each of these concepts will receive a $1,000 cash award from Local Motors.

Here is information about the six other concepts, as provided by Local Motors:

Internal Strut Frame

A favorite from the beginning, Internal Strut Frame has an innovative design that uses vertical struts to support the upper surfaces, saving weight and making a sturdy frame/body. This concept was selected as the “community favorite” by members of Local Motors’ global community.

Aeroblade

Also employing an innovative use of vertical structures to support external surfaces, catering to the inability of current 3D printing processes to bridge horizontal gaps, this multi-layer design was described as “very futuristic” by judge Douglas K. Woods, President, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. “This design really has the ‘wow’ factor, like something Batman or the Green Hornet would drive.”

3DPCX

Creative structural supports – including the spine down the center – and a clean passenger compartment are defining elements of this concept. In his judges notes, Paul R. Warndorf, Vice President, Manufacturing Technology, AMT, noted, “By incorporating simplicity and innovation via smart design and smart deployment of vehicle features, the 3DPCX brings the openness of the road inside the vehicle.”

LM Supernova

The LM Supernova incorporates interior design elements that are not only innovative and well thought out, but highly functional and lightweight. This is a great example of using good design and engineering to create a truly innovative vehicle. According to Woods, “The Supernova looks tough and fast, like a Formula 1 racecar.”

Mirage

The Mirage took an innovation award for incorporating layers to create 3D printed “crumple zones,” which is not only unique, but also very innovative. Taking into account how the technology could be used, the Mirage concept “is a great looking car, offering some solid suggestions for what can be achieved with additive manufacturing,” said Rick Neff, Manager, Market Development for Cincinnati Incorporated.

LM e-Spider

“A tribute to the minimalist in all of us, the e-Spider merges the efficiency of a smart car with the effectiveness of a desert dune buggy,” said AMT’s Warndorf. The e-Spider’s roof design and windshield connections, as well as the incorporation of shielding accessories to allow for use in severe weather, showed a great combination of innovation and practicality.

About the partnership with Local Motors and this endeavor to deliver the world’s first 3D printed vehicle prototype, Peter R. Eelman, Vice President, Exhibitions & Communications, AMT, had this to say, “This continues the legacy of Local Motors bringing disruptive technology to IMTS. We started this journey in 2010 when Jay Rogers appeared at AMT’s Annual Meeting, and from that a partnership emerged to build the Rally Fighter on the show floor at IMTS 2012. We are excited to showcase the winner’s innovative design and demonstrate to the industry this new process of manufacturing a car with a substantial structure being 3D printed on-site in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center at IMTS 2014.”