3D Printing, My Car…

Meet the Strati, it is the world’s newest 3D-printed car. We’ve seen 3D printing capture the imagination world, make its way onto our desktops, and be the source of ever popular publicity stunts, like this one. Strati, is the 3D printed car from Local Motors that just make some serious waves and a lot of attention at IMTS 2014.

3D Printing a car

The severely stratified little buggy was a collaborative effort between Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Local Motors, Cincinnati Incorporated, Thermwood, SABIC Plastics, and Techmer Engineered solutions.

The Strati only has 49 total components, but the chassis was printed as a single piece in 44 hours. Using direct digital manufacturing and a prototype 3D printer appropriately called BAAM (a laser printer that Cincinnati and Oak Ridge retrofitted with a 3D extruder), the team printed up to 40 pounds of material per hour on the show floor.

The big area additive manufacturing prototype printed all of the major car components with 1,100 pounds of carbon fiber reinforced ABS. The prints were then cleaned up by the Thermwood Model 70 5-axis CNC router during the subtractive part of the process.

While the mass appeal of the Strati stunt didn’t make the casual passerby more in tune to industry challenges beyond slack-jawed wonderment, it didn’t fall completely on deaf ears as material costs, particular for proprietary material, have been an issue for design engineers since the first machines hit the market in the early 1990s. We shall see how loudly the drum was banged.

Now back to the wonderment. The Strati can reach up to 40 mph and has a reported range of 120 miles on a single charge. For $30,000, it’s a cool toy, but at that cost wouldn’t you sooner buy a 3D printer?

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