Direct Digital Manufacturing the World’s First 3D-Printed Mass Production Cars
Kagan Pittman posted on July 09, 2015 |
Project Redacted challenge lets co-creation community inspire the future of auto manufacturing.

The idea of a 3D-printed car isn’t exactly new and it’s been done before in different ways. Take for example, the Urbee, the NTU Venture 8, the Strati, and scores of other examples.

These vehicles saw success as showcases of the technology and its possibilities. However, the winning designs of the Local Motors Project Redacted challenge will be used as inspiration for the world’s first production line of direct digital manufactured vehicles.

Winning designs ReLoad Swim and ReLoad Sport showcase a vehicle focused around a flexible foundation, allowing for customization in the extreme. Bodies are detachable and can be switched on the fly making for easy repairs or do-it-yourself paint jobs, minus the paint.

Images courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

ReLoad Sport, Image courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

Image courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

ReLoad Swim, Image courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

The ReLoad chassis is a 4 inch thick hull designed to prevent objects lying on the road from penetrating the floor of the vehicle and damaging the battery.

Front/rear wheels and suspension are added to create what ReLoad calls their “skate board,” the top of which is sealed with more 3D-printed covers. The windshield and rollover bars are installed afterward.

Image courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

ReLoad basis, Image courtesy Local Motors, ReLoad

The Redacted challenge’s winning entry was decided by a judging panel consisting of former Tonight Show host and car enthusiast Jay Leno, SEMA vice president of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak and SABIC senior manager Geert Jan Schellekens.

It’s too bad the ReLoad model cars won’t be seeing public sales. The basic vehicle platform could be sold with a giant tag reading, “Car Body Sold Separately.”

The Local Motors co-creation community has also built an electric powertrain test platform using the same lithium ion chemistry used in existing electric vehicles. Lithium sulfur battery technology, creating three times the energy at half the weight of lithium ion tech, is also being explored.

The electric powertrain test platform will serve as the base for the development of the powertrain used in the 3D-printed vehicle production line.

“Hell-bent” on revolutionizing auto manufacturing, Local Motors CEO and co-founder believes DDM is the future. “Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years. We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM. This process will create better and safer products…”

Local Motors plans to design, build and sell a Low Speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) iteration to debut in Q1 2016. A fully homologated highway-ready version will be available to the public later that year.

To learn more about Local Motors Project Redacted challenge, visit localmotors.com.


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