Local Motors, the company that 3-D printed and assembled a drivable car in just five days, is at it again — this time with one less day and with several more ambitious plans for 2015.
The company had five people printing, shaping and assembling another Strati model in just four days at the 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association convention in Las Vegas early this month.
Down to five workers from 12 at Chicago's International Manufacturing Technology Show in September, Local Motors printed the Strati's body in 44 hours and assembled it in about two days. The Strati sailed 3 miles through the streets of Las Vegas, Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers said.
“Our goal is to get [production] down to two people,” he said.
The company's plans underscore the growing interest in 3-D manufacturing technology in the auto industry. Automakers and suppliers increasingly are relying on 3-D printing to shorten product development cycles, cut prototype costs, reduce mechanical failures and test new ways of raising fuel efficiency. Now the allure of manufacturing entire vehicles is beginning to take shape.
Next on Local Motors' to-do list?
A design competition called the ModMen Challenge. The company is inviting “anyone who has a dream and wants to show the world what they want to do with a cool, innovative car” to submit entries for a car that will be printed and assembled at SEMA 2015, said Justin Fishkin, Local Motors chief strategy officer.
Participants can submit design ideas online in any medium they choose: a drawing, a model or a concept built on Local Motors' website platform.
The consumer is an integral part of production, and a cornerstone of Local Motors' strategy, Fishkin said.
“The community of designers and manufacturers are the soul of innovation,” he said.