Will 3D Printed Cars be the Next Manufacturing System Used
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has already spoken on the topic of the money wasted in the design and manufacturing of cars, but what he probably did not expect to see was a car that has been built completely differently. Currently, and for the past hundred years, we have built cars on assembly lines with thousands of individual parts put together but one company is challenging this ide and showing us examples of how to build cars without using this production model. This company is Local Motors and CEO Jay Rogers shows us how to build a car a different way.
The answer Rogers has come up with is the 3D-printed cars and the Strati is the first of its kind. The Strati is a small car that was built in Detroit in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. This little car is an electric powered two-seater car that is the first of many that Local Motors plans to build. Currently, Rogers and his team of 100 employees per factory are working to build two factories that will be ready to produce these cars by the end of the year.
What other manufacturers have perceived thus far is the fact prototypes could easily be manufactured this way, using the 3D printers. Even though Rogers is excited about the attention already brought to his product he stands by his claim that this is how the cars should be produced, not just how the prototypes should be built. For this cutting edge technology and provable build concept, Local Motors won the Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics last year. Even though the Strati is a bit of a crude offering, it’s very easy to see the overall potential that is encompassed in this car that could make it the beginning of a new production system.
So what is this car made of? It’s printed from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic that is strong and comparatively cheap. The safety features and crash structures can easily be built into the body because the car is built in layers of the material that is squirted from the nozzles of the massive printer. Along with the safety features you can build the bumpers on to the car along with any other parts that need to be installed during the printing process. This concept is reasonable enough to be able to allow you the ability to reprint the car should it become damaged in a crash; just unbolt the motor and suspension and let it be created once again.
With a few models already made, it’s easy to see why this will make perfect sense to build. The cost cutting is amazing bringing a car down t nearly $5,000 instead of the prices we currently are used to on a variety of cars on the road today. The Strati is going to be the car that will change the way cars are made and Local Motors will be the company to perfect it. The current Strati took about forty hours to complete and some would like that number to come down to as few as ten, which can be done with a few modifications to the build process.