The world’s first drivable 3D printed car was finished and driven off of the showroom floor at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago this past Saturday. The vehicle, produced by Local Motors, is called the Strati.
A team of engineers assembled the parts to make the car roadworthy from pieces printed out. The entire process took 44 hours, start to finish, and was done in front of a live crowd.
The body, seats, and major components were 3D printed in a process called direct digital manufacturing (DDM) but not every part of the car was made this way. Propulsion is still from a traditional motor, in this case an electric motor from a Renault Twizy. Other mechanical bits including wires, suspension, and the battery were also not 3D printed. That said, the Strati uses far less parts than a conventional car–about 40 compared to the tens of thousands on a production vehicle.
The idea behind the creation of this unique 3D vehicle is to show the viability of this kind of technology and to prove that it has a place in the automotive industry. Although this first vehicle isn’t for sale, they plan to be 3D printing cars for the public sometime in the next few months.
This particular design was the work of Michele Anoé of Italy who won a design contest over 206 other entrants. He not only got to have his design produced, but won $5,000. Let’s hope they let him drive his creation, too.