Imagine a car, as functional and drivable as any other, coming off a three-dimensional printer and assembled in a matter of days.
An Arizona company says that could be a reality in the next year, and this month gave attendees at a Chicago technology show front-row seats to 3-D-printed car production.
The car, called the Strati, was built at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show. After starting from scratch on Sept. 8, Local Motors created a car that coasted out of Chicago’s McCormick Place and onto Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Sept. 12.
Local Motors, an open-source design company in Chandler, Ariz., expects the Strati to be available to the public in 2015 for between $18,000 and $30,000.
Local Motors began working on the project about nine months ago, said Alex Fiechter, the company’s head of innovation. The company asked for 3-D-printed car design ideas and crowd-sourced more than 200 submissions. Italian designer Michele Anoe was the winner, and Local Motors got to work.
The company collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which had a large 3-D printer, and Thermwood Corp. in Dale, Ind., which built a router to smooth the edges of the car, Fiechter said.
Fiechter, who has been with Local Motors for four years, said he likes working through the manufacturing process.
“The biggest thing that drew me there was the potential to work with a diverse level of material,” he said.