My following article below was originally published by SERIOUS WONDER:
If you were to visit the homepage of car manufacturer Local Motors, you’d be surprised with an interesting pop up of an animation. The animation depicts the 3D-printing of an entire car, and then invites you to take a peak into the future of automobiles – the very first 3D-printed car known as the Strati!
This isn’t merely a concept design, nor wishful thinking of how we might manufacture cars in the coming decades; this is the here and now, with a fully operational, ready-to-be-tested vehicle. As shown in the video shared below (the Strati can be seen at the 0:55 mark), people are already giving it a test run, albeit with police escorts and security detail to ensure the safety of both the drivers and nearby passersby. But how much of this vehicle is 3D-printed (see graphic below)?
“Imagine if you could create the major elements of the exterior, the structure, and the Interior associated with a vehicle in one part. Then think if changing the design, or even taking on an entirely new one represented no additional cost in tooling. This is what we want investigated in the Direct Digital Manufacturing Project!” – Local Motors
Another question to be asked is how the car is being 3D-printed? The process is known as Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM). What DDM entails is the manifestation of material objects via 3D digital data. Instead of going through the original method of car manufacturing – machining, molding, and casting – the car is manufactured layer-by-layer and then snapped together like lego.
Having already gone through its Ideate and Evaluate stages of production, the Strati is now currently going through its Prototype stage, and from there the market production of its final design. And while 3D-printed cars aren’t exactly new, none of the previously printed cars are either fully operational or at a size that could even be remotely considered a usable car. The Strati is truly the first of its kind. Even better, it’s only the beginning!
The manufacturing of cars via 3D-printing is the start of a new Industrial Revolution. In its long-run, there are no limits as to what it can do and what it can provide to each consumer. Before, cars were limited in its design and functionality due to a limited means and resources needed to conjure up our deepest and wildest of innovations. 3D-printing can, and will, be that needed medium of our imagination. If you can think it, then you can print it!