3D printing is one of several disruptive technologies making a foray into the automotive industry. If you didn’t know, 3D printing (alternatively called “additive manufacturing”) is a process that utilizes a computer-controlled extrusion head to accrete raw material (usually plastic) into some predetermined form. Basically, a 3D printer can turn a digitized design into a physical object.

This technology is a huge boon for car lovers. The manufacturing process, once a costly and time-intensive burden, is quickly becoming accessible to the layman. Automotive culture is still coming to grips with the sheer number of possibilities that 3D printing represents. Jay Leno, for example, uses his 3D printer to create hard-to-find replacement parts for his vast collection of vintage automobiles.

But what if you could do more than just print parts? What if you could print an entire car?

Click past the jump to read about the Local Motors Strati and 3D printing.

Local Motors Strati in Detail

That’s exactly what Local Motors wants to find out. With the help of Cincinnati Incorporated, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and The Association For Manufacturing Technology, Local Motors managed to create this car, dubbed the Strati, during a 44-hour stint at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September 2014.

While the electric motor, battery, suspension bits, and wiring used were created via more traditional manufacturing processes, pretty much everything else was 3D-printed on site. Building a modern car usually requires a huge team of robots and personnel assembling thousands of different parts through a vast production line. The Strati uses less than 50 parts and was put together by a team of two on the floor of the convention. This represents a huge step forward in terms of what can be done with a simple design, relatively few personnel, and of course, 3D printing technology.

Local Motors is leading the way when it comes to this revolutionary new manufacturing process. Founded in 2007 and headquartered out of Phoenix, Arizona, Local Motors focuses on creating low-volume, open-source vehicles. Products offered include the beastly Rally Fighter, as well as a bevy of motorcycles, electric bikes, skateboards, children’s toy cars, and even a 100-mph RC car.

If you aren’t excited yet, you should be. 3D printing is setting the stage for a major overhaul of the automotive industry. Cost, accessibility, customizability, waste reduction, development speed, etc. all will be drastically affected.

Personally, I can’t wait for the time when printing your very own sports car is just a download away. I’ll take a 427 Cobra, please. Blue with white stripes.

Source: Autos Yahoo

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