With the considerable advantages 3D printing adds to the digital prototyping process, it was only a matter of time before the automotive world took notice. As car manufacturers embrace low cost and more efficient production, 3D printing should gain even more of a foothold in this industry.
Local Motors was purported to be the first company to jump headfirst into the 3D printing world, with the potential to eventually offer a completely 3D printed car for purchase . The design is still subject to the same rules and regulations placed on other cars in the United States, but once those are met, full scale production can begin.
Made from the same ABS plastic filament usable in the 3D printers Redstack offers, the Local Motors Strati can be fully printed in just 44 hours. Rather ambitiously, the company has elected to print as many items together as a single integrated unit. This includes the chassis and exterior body, but not the motor and battery, which are still mechanical parts.
The team has confirmed the vehicle can be driven, and are hoping to have a production model ready some time this year.
Of course, 3D printing cars is not limited to big manufacturers, with keen amateurs also getting in on the action.
Bold New Zealander Ivan Sentch began building a replica Aston Martin DB4 in 2013, using a readily available 3D printer. This is not the work of a big factory - rather, Ivan is building the project in his garage.
By cobbling together more than 2,500 pieces of 3D printed molds, Ivan will eventually have the complete bodywork of a 1961 Aston Martin DB4.
There are limits to 3D printing. As with the Local Motors example, Ivan can't 3D print the engine and running gear, so will have to rely on a donated chassis from a Nissan Skyline according to a 2013 Stuff article.
These projects show that there few limits to the combination of 3D printers and AutoCAD software, with big companies and backyard enthusiasts both making use of the technology.
Contact Redstack for more information and pricing on a 3D printing solution to meet your needs.