Interview: Say hello to the world’s first 3D printed car

strati 3d printed car
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At Liftshare, we’re keen to help you save money on simple travel while making amazing connections, so when we heard that open-source American car firm Local Motors had created a cost-effective, clean car using 3D printing techniques, we simply had to have a chat with them.

Say hello to the Strati:


Video Credit: Local Motors

The name Strati means “layers” in Italian, and the final vehicle you see above was created by Italian designer Michele Anoé. It was chosen from over 200 designs entered into a Local Motors competition held in Spring 2014, and was recently unveiled in full working form at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago on September 13.

We spoke with the company’s Chief Strategy Officer Justin Fishkin to find out exactly how the Strati was conceived, and how it can help people get on the road in a more affordable manner.

“Everything was a concern,” Fishkin tells us about the team’s initial brainstorming. There was no instruction manual on how to 3D-print a full-scale drivable electric car, and no printer capable of handling such a job. So the Strati and its production process were developed in parallel. Success was the result of a remarkably open, results-driven collaboration with excellent partners.”

It took Local Motors just 4 months to conceive, build and drive the first Strati. From the first moments of the project, Local Motors were constantly iterating on the Strati’s design right up to the first successful test drive in Chicago last month. The car seen at the show took 44 hours to print, features less than 50 parts (the typical car has 25,000) and took two days to assemble. The main point is that it works, and achieved a top speed of 40mph using a Renault Twizy electric drivetrain.

“The most compelling environmental implications are the massive efficiencies gained in our direct digital manufacturing process,” Fishkin continues, telling us about the potential sustainable impact of the Strati. “Vehicles designed by the world for local energy economies. Built locally. Driven locally. Recycled locally. No big factory. No unsold units.”

strati 2

Interestingly, Fishkin reveals that Local Motors aims to offer a recycle service, where drivers can take their old Strati to an outlet, and have it reduced down then rebuilt into a better model for a better price. The cars is made out of ABS plastic that has been infused with Carbon Fiber, so it can easily be reworked into new designs.

“We hope the results continue to speak for themselves,” Fishkin says of the Strati’s first successful test drive. “The auto industry faces three significant challenges to creating and iterating vehicles: count, weight, and initial cost of tooling. Our hybrid direct digital manufacturing process addresses all three hurdles, opening the door to an exciting new era in advanced vehicular design, manufacturing and recycling possibilities.”

“Printing and driving the ‘Strati’ was the result of an epic partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Fishkin concludes. “We knew it could be done. We felt it had to be done. It was the “hello world” from a grown up maker movement poised to power a third industrial revolution.”

It’s clear that the Strati has potential to really change the way we think about sustainable travel. Not only does it run on battery power, the option to recycle your old car for a new one could reduce the amount of materials used in vehicle production, and cut down on industrial waste.

The car isn’t street legal yet, but we will keep you posted once we hear more from Local Motors. Let us know what you think about the Strati below.

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