Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Strati wins 3D printed car challenge

By

June 9, 2014

'Strati' - The winner of the Local Motors 3D challenge (Image: Local Motors)

'Strati' - The winner of the Local Motors 3D challenge (Image: Local Motors)

Image Gallery (28 images)

The first ever 3D Printed Car Design Challenge has been run and won with Strati, a design by Michele Anoé of Italy, chosen from a field of over 200 entries submitted by contestants from more than 30 countries. As well as winning a $5000 cash prize for his efforts from the organizers, Local Motors, Michele's concept will provide the most influence for a full-size 3D prototype to be printed at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) this September in Chicago, Illinois.

Begun back in April, the 3D printed Car Design Challenge run by Arizona-based crowd-source automotive firm Local Motors was created with the aim of bringing together ideas, concepts and designs that could be shared, discussed and voted upon to assist in producing one whole 3D print car concept.

The Local Motors Forge community has been involved in many other projects including the likes of the Verrado electric drift trike and the recent redux on the Harley-davidson motorcycle, but this is the first time that Local Motors has brought the community together to produce a vehicle to be printed entirely in 3D.

Though not the first 3D printed car to be produced – the Urbee hybrid holds that honor – the manufacturing lessons learned from producing the example vehicle at this year's IMTS will go on to assist in producing a production-ready version in the months following the show.

"There are three major challenges facing the auto industry today: part count, weight, and the initial cost of tooling when creating and iterating on vehicles," says Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO. "The hybrid Direct Digital Manufacturing process stands to address all three of these. When these hurdles are removed, we open the door to an exciting new era in automotive design and manufacturing possibilities."

And it is the advent of 3D printing that will drive this new era in automotive manufacturing. With the possibility of conceiving, designing, and finally producing a vehicle completely within a digital environment, vehicles should not only be faster and easier to produce from concept to showroom, but with less waste, less specialist labor, and without the need for acres of factory floor. A true revolution in vehicle manufacturing for the 21st Century.

Here are the top seven finalists in the Local Motor's 3D Printed Car Design Challenge:

Winner

Strati

A simple and clean design incorporating a foldaway roof and simple, molded-in seats, Strati is designed with an integral roll bar, projector headlights, and a modular cabin.

Strati elements (Image: Local Motors)

Runners up

Six other concepts whose innovative features may also be integrated into the ultimate prototype were chosen for their originality and innovation. Each of the designers of these vehicles will also receive a $1,000 runners-up award from Local Motors for their efforts.

ISF

ISF from above (Image: Local Motors)

Amongst the runners-up, the concept ISF (Internal Strut Frame) – selected as community favorite by members of Local Motors’ global community – uses vertical interior struts to support the outer-most surfaces, to save weight whilst providing a rigid structure.

Aeroblade

Aeroblade 3/4 front (Image: Local Motors)

Like the Internal Strut Frame concept, Aeroblade also uses structures held vertically to support outer surfaces. This multi-layered design helps overcome 3D printing’s difficulty in bridging horizontal gaps, which – in something the size of a car – is quite a challenge.

3DPCX

3DPCX 3/4 front (Image: Local Motors)

Another selected design, the 3DPCX has a span like a bridge support down the center, and along with sweeping structural supports, the 3DPCX is an open and airy vehicle reminiscent of an Ariel Atom.

Supernova

Supernova 3/4 front (Image: Local Motors)

The Supernova incorporates angular design elements as part of the overall structure of the design, that are also reflected on the interior making it look functional and lightweight.

Mirage

Mirage design elements (Image: Local Motors)

Taking out an innovation award for incorporating layers to create 3D printed crumple zones, the Mirage demonstrated a unique take by also including manufacturing and safety factors into its design. "(The Mirage) ... is a great looking car, offering some solid suggestions for what can be achieved with additive manufacturing,” says Rick Neff, Manager, Market Development for Cincinnati Incorporated.

e-Spider

e-spider left side (Image: Local Motors)

Rounding out the finalists is the e-spider. Looking like a cross between a dune buggy, a smart car, and a Lotus Elise, the e-Spider has an innovative roof design with integral body support structures to also allow it to double as a convertible.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show will be on September 8 - 13, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. A short video on the competition can be seen below.

Sources: IMTS, Local Motors

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.   All articles by Colin Jeffrey
9 Comments

It will be interesting to see how the auto industry will adapt 3-D printing. More specifically, they come about a process to make body or structural parts that meet all the various standards required for safety and durability.

Rt1583
9th June, 2014 @ 05:24 am PDT

I think those are way cool. I think there some very creative minds out there and this proves it.

I am glad I am not the judget for that contest. I would never be able to chose one to win since they all look great.

As an owner of a Smart car, I think the eSpider is really cool since - as it states in the article - it resembles the Fortwo. I think it would make a really cool electric Smart roadster, IMO. :)

BigGoofyGuy
9th June, 2014 @ 05:38 am PDT

@Rt1583 - Provided they use the proper tool for the job that is already a reality. Metal parts printed with a fusing metal printer are more durable cost less to make and often stronger. If they get a high end version they could even print micro-truss structures which are lighter and stronger than solid metal parts. The added strength and ability to make complex shapes with minimal parts is why SpaceX is printing the dracov2 thruster rather than machining it.

VirtualGathis
9th June, 2014 @ 08:54 am PDT

Great to daydream of summer time vehicles, but they all failed to realize the reality of 4 seasons in northern climes. None would be able to provide safe comfortable transportation in slushy rutted & pothole riddled roads, or deep freezing cold blizzard conditions.

Even the E-Smartfor2 looses half it's range @ -30, but on the upside none will rust either, although in summer here we routinely hit dash temps of 140F+. Could end up with a few multicolored puddles.

Bob Flint
9th June, 2014 @ 10:18 am PDT

I guess I don't see the point of 3D printing cars beyond prototyping. I see it's advantage in being used for concept vehicles but I don't see the benefits of using is for mass production of vehicles.

Daishi
9th June, 2014 @ 10:41 am PDT

3D printing is a cost-effective solution for custom works, but very much cost-ineffective for any decent mass production. I have difficulties imagining how a large batch odf 3D printed parts could ever be made cheaper than say a batch of equivalent parts stamped from a metal sheet.

Short Fuse
10th June, 2014 @ 01:23 am PDT

@ Daishi

I'm with you, 3D printing is not the Holy Grail of manufacturing that the media are trying to let us believe. It's cool, incredibly useful for prototyping and very well adaptable to any very limited or highly customizable production, other than that it's not the best option, unless you want to attract headlines (=marketing).

BTW, if anyone was guessing, "Strati" is an Italian word, meaning "Layers".

Giolli Joker
10th June, 2014 @ 02:38 am PDT

To add to @Bob Flint's comment, to me these would make lovely golf carts but nothing more.

Sure, "mass customization" is the buzzword du jour in the manufacturing world (think Nike sneakers you can order in your own color selection, etc.) but the engineering requirements for a vehicle that news to survive on public roads with potholes and idiots driving other 2 ton hunks of steel (to name two hazards) would make for quite the hurdle, other than to use 3D printed parts to make completely superfluous trim parts for the sake of looking different.

f8lee
10th June, 2014 @ 02:08 pm PDT

I thought you might like to know that Local Motors is printing the car live at IMTS in Chicago this week.. Here is the time lapse video: http://bit.ly/1rr81bO

Taylor Michelle Alexander
8th September, 2014 @ 01:24 pm PDT
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