Local Motors to open two 3D printed car “micro-factories”

US automotive company Local Motors has announced at the Detroit Auto Show that it will open two new “microfactories” this year, which will manufacture 3D printed cars.

The North American International Auto Show also saw Local Motors print a version of the Strati, taking only 44 hours to create.

The car was made from 212 layers of carbon fibre-reinforced ABS plastic, laid down in 44 hours, reports 3D Printing Industry.

The Strati was first printed and driven at Chicago’s International Manufacturing Technology Show in September last year.

The machine used to print the Strati is a Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM), made by Cincinnati Inc. in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It is able to extrude about 18 kg of material per hour.

Milling was performed by a CNC machine by Thermwood.

Local Motors announced it would open two “micro-factories” this year – at National Harbor (Maryland) and Oak Ridge (Tennessee) – to add to its two existing facilities at Glendale (Arizona) and Las Vegas (Nevada).

“Gone are the days of an economy of scale in order to introduce and commercialize a technology,” said CEO and founder Jay Rogers.

“Micro-factories are a great counterpoint because they employ an economy of scope by taking advantage of low cost tooling and co-creation, resulting in the ability to get products to market faster and in less time while using less capital to find a winning concept.”

Each site will be only 40,000 square feet, with 20,000 square feet for lab area, 10,000 for a showroom, and 10,000 for a build floor.

Local Motors’ Direct Digital Manufacturing project also involves investigating the use of a hybrid additive/subtractive manufacturing machine from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“This machine uses a large diameter extrusion head to 3D print objects at high speed, then on the same head it also uses a router to come back and machine surfaces to a more precise specification where required,” according to the project’s description.

The Stratis’ estimated retail price will be between $US 18,000 and $US 30,000, according to Local Motors.

The Independent notes that the Detroit motor show is one of the most prestigious in the world, and has seen over 700 vehicles on display.

As reported yesterday, two of those shown were Australian-designed, including the Chevrolet Bolt, which General Motors will offer as a more affordable model of electric car compared to Tesla’s vehicles.