Local Motors 3D prints a car at the Detroit Motor Show

The car chassis is built using a carbon-reinforced ABS plastic

Local Motors 3D-printed Strati on show at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 13, 2015.

Local Motors 3D-printed Strati on show at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 13, 2015.

The scores of new cars on show at the North American International Auto Show come from factories across the US and around the world, but there's only one that comes right off the show floor.

Local Motors is pioneering a 3D-printing technology in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory that squeezes carbon-reinforced ABS plastic through an ink-jet like nozzle so, bit-by-bit, an entire car chassis can be created. The carbon fiber gives the plastic a lot more strength.

Once printed, the body is milled and polished so it's smooth and then it's ready for the wheels, electrics and steering and motor to be attached. Local Motors is sourcing those from the Renault Twizy, an electric-powered city car produced by the French auto maker.

The process enables prototypes to be created much faster than with traditional fabrication technologies and is cheaper for small runs, Local Motors said.

The Arizona-based company hopes to begin commercial production of cars this year and is building micro-factories in Knoxville, Tennessee, and in National Harbor, which is near Washington, D.C.

The company's Strati concept took about 44 hours to be printed and consists of about 1100 pounds of plastic, which costs about $5 per pound.

In a test ride at the Detroit Motor Show of a car printed before the show began, the Strati proved to have quick acceleration. The track was too small for the car to get up to its top speed of 44 miles per hour, but it certainly seemed capable of the task. The plastic body appeared sturdy and didn't show any obvious signs of flexing or weakness.

The car's battery has a range of between 40 miles and 60 miles depending on the driving conditions.

Before the cars hit the street, they will have to pass safety crash tests.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Local MotorsAutomotiveindustry verticals

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?