June 15, 2014

Local Motors will showcase the first direct digital manufactured vehicle at IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014 in Chicago, Illinois, September 8-13, 2014, and the team will have to complete the print in 6 days before the shows end.

In January 2014, Local Motors and the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have signed a new partnership to develop and deliver technology to produce the world's first production 3-D printed vehicle. After an exhaustive four-month design process, the team decided to print out first what they're referring to as a "test mule." With the assistance of the ORNL, Local Motors started the first test print of the DDM (Direct Digital Manufacturing) car chassis/tub at ORNL in April.

It is certainly amazing to see how much Local Motors has achieved in the last two months. Three days ago, Local Motors announced the completed main structure of the 3D printed car prototype was bonded and bolted together at its Phoenix Micro Factory. One day later, the power supply, controller as well as the electric motor from the donor vehicle (Renault Twizy) was installed successfully into the 3D printed car prototype main structure. And yesterday Local Motors took the 3D printed car test mule drive for the first time!

Check out the video below Local Motors engineer James Earle took 3D printed car for the first drive:

Local Motors uses the hybrid additive/subtractive machine developed by ORNL to print out each components. The hybrid additive/subtractive 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. By cutting the whole model up into smaller segments the engineers can reliably print the pieces without too much thermal deformation. Smaller pieces also means shorter print times on each layer.

To enable the community to print the 3D printed car test mule at home, Local Motors announces that it will post the STL file, exact settings for replicating the printing parameters, etc. of their test mule that is being printed at ORNL online in a few weeks. The makerbot gcode files has been uploaded here already for printing on your home printer. The company is also looking into potentially offering an RC-Kit to allow you to turn a home printed car into a working model. Stay tuned.

3D printed scaled down model of a car

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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AMnerd wrote at 6/24/2014 1:56:21 PM:

To be honest, unless the entire construction is manufactured with AM I am as impressed by this as I would be impressed by a car body made out of planks or styrofoam. This is the equivalent of making a cell phone cover with AM and shouting that you just 3D printed a phone.

AWest wrote at 6/16/2014 7:42:24 PM:

Just to clear up any confusion and in response to what David said, also note that the rear sub frame and front steering column bar will both be printed in the next iteration, it is only aluminum in this very first test mule's chassis due to the size of the print bed on the current printer(it was designed to be printed as 1 piece but was done as a 4 piece print when we encountered thermal deformation issues). The Cincinnati BAAM will be replacing the current printer within the next month and the next test car will be entirely printed without an aluminum subframe(body, interior features, and chassis together as one piece) utilizing brackets and embedded fasteners to attach the suspension and powertrain components. While this is a small step in the process as a whole it really highlights the power of this method for prototyping vehicles at low cost in the near term and huge flexibility of manufacturing in the long term as the methods are perfected and commercialized.

Dave wrote at 6/16/2014 3:48:03 PM:

@AMnerd, the chassis is 3D printed, except for the rear sub frame.

Ben R wrote at 6/16/2014 2:23:28 PM:

Umm, the whole center section is 3D printed. Just the front and rear sub frames and suspension components are aluminum. Do you understand what "tub" means in relation to a vehicle chassis?

AMnerd wrote at 6/16/2014 11:03:07 AM:

3D printed car body* You wouldn't even need the printed part to be able to drive it once you have the chassis which is made with traditional methods. This is nothing but empty hype that hurts the industry

Bogdan wrote at 6/16/2014 2:50:34 AM:

That is so lame !

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