The first 3D printed electric car, the Strati, produced by Local Motors in collaboration with Cincinnati and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been gaining popularity, reports Gasgoo Automotive News.
Strati were materialized out of 15 percent carbon-reinforced ABS thermoplastic in a record 44 hours, under the eyes of attendees at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). The car was printed in 212 layers on a Big Area Additive Manufacturing CI 3D printer.
The design was selected in a competition, won by Michele Anoè of Turin, Italy. After finishing the manufacturing, it took one day to create the rough formula and 2 days to assemble the parts into a working vehicle. It may take more time to add assembly designs for the accessibility of mass market electric car.
Commonly, the 3D printing technology faces difficulty in procuring proper materials. According to experts, the availability of strong enough materials is a crucial matter in addition to meeting strict safety standards. At the moment, most 3D printers print plastic-like materials, which are useful for making models only.
Currently, various brands use 3D printing technology for their automotive parts. It is impractical to 3D print the whole automobile, but printing specific parts is possible with the technology.
In this case, the Local Motors Strati uses Battlax tires that attain a maximum speed of 50 mph. A speed limiter was installed, limiting its max speed to 25 mph, which forced the car to remove safety features like seatbelts and airbags.
Aside from major automotive parts, nearly 50 of the Strati’s other parts were printed using 3D printed technology. At present, Local Motors wants to make the vehicle road legal, with official sales expected to start next year. The car will approximately cost around $18,000 (110,092 RMB).
In fact, the 3D automotive printing technology has been in use for a long time to make automobile production models. This technology is impractical and as a concept, aren’t very realistic according to some industry experts.
However, it offers some advantages, including simplicity and low costs. But lack of strength and precision of printed material are some negative features.
Moreover, the successful implementation of 3D printing to create complex parts like engines and transmissions will be very difficult to accomplish. The technology is appealing but the automobiles levy high standards on safety as 3D printing alone does not guarantee it.
However, the use of 3D printing in automobile production is limited to creating production models, is not a negative factor. Building production models is a very expensive attempt, but 3D printing can help lower these costs by allowing printing whatever industry wants.
Dongfeng Group technology team has offered a different viewpoint that 3D printing of automobiles is the leading trend of the future.