Technology

Manufacturing Association’s Conference Treat: A 3D-Printed Car, Built Live

The Association for Manufacturing Technology, working with several industry firms, plans to present the making of a 3D-printed vehicle at the group's International Manufacturing Technology Show. The car will be created using a new large-scale printing process.

Wanna see what a 3D-printed car looks like? Get a ticket to the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s upcoming tradeshow in Chicago.

AMT has commissioned the printing of a vehicle, which will be on display at the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014, taking place September 8-13. Attendees should get ready for a show: The car will be printed live at the event.

The vehicle concept that’s being worked on, the Strati, won the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge, a contest held by custom-vehicle manufacturer Local Motors. The company put the prototype into production earlier this year. The vehicle, shown above, topped more than 200 other vehicles to win the honor.

At the Bleeding Edge

The concept car, which AMT commissioned in February, is an opportunity to show off a manufacturing method that could revolutionize the industry.

In creating the vehicle, Local Motors will partner with Cincinnati Incorporated and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to print it in 3D, using a Direct Digital Manufacturing process that can build large-scale objects.

Because of their large size, prototypes such as the Strati would be difficult to print using more traditional methods, but Cincinnati Inc. has produced a “big area additive manufacturing” device that can print very large items—such as chairs and, well, cars—at a fairly quick pace. A clip of the printing method is shown above.

Meanwhile, in a series of blog posts on its website, Local Motors has been showing off the process of developing and designing the vehicle. In a video clip two weeks ago, the company featured the first efforts to drive a “test mule”—a pre-production prototype. It took just 40 hours to print; company officials hope to cut that down to 20 hours by the time of the conference.

Encouraging New Processes

AMT intends to use the opportunity to help drive industry innovation by showing off a technology that could speed up the sometimes-lengthy prototyping process. Local Motors is a good partner for AMT on this front: The association says it has the potential to disrupt the auto industry.

“The innovations they are driving in the design, manufacture, and sale of vehicles has been empowering individual innovators since 2007,” AMT’s director of communications, Bonnie Gurney, said in a February news release. “Partnering with them to deliver safer, more functional, lightweight, and efficient vehicles via new, innovative manufacturing technologies is core to our commitment to bring global technology advancements to the local level.”

It could go even further, too. As Local Motors President and CEO John “Jay” Rogers, who cofounded the company, told CNN, this technology could turn into a small handful the many thousands of parts that go into a vehicle.

“Our goal in the end is to be radically different about the creation of cars; we sort of commonly say a car today is over 20,000 parts—we would like cars of the future to have less than 20 parts,” he said.

(via Local Motors' website)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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