By now you are aware of the amazing feats accomplished by 3-D printing technology. Popular Mechanics magazine just reported on the first 3-D printed car
, a historic moment for additive manufacturing
and automotive design. The Strati, by Local Motors out of Phoenix, Arizona, is created using a blueprint design from a CAD file (computer aided design), that is printed into reality. The car is made of carbon reinforced plastic and it’s frame is printed in one single piece. The car’s tub was made of four interlocking parts because there is no 3D printer big enough to fashion the whole chasis in one piece. Nonetheless made with only 64 parts, it’s a huge break from the traditional cars which bring together 25,000 parts. Think more go-kart than muscle car, which runs on a 48-volt electric drivetrain that is bo lted to the a subframe in the rear of the automobile. Despite it’s meek power, the car is for real, light weight, inexpensive and customizable; it’s implications on the car industry cannot be ignored.
Three-Dimensional printing is also making an impact on cars that are currently on the market. Car parts made of plastic that were once hard to find or that can only be obtained from foreign sources can now be printed right here in the U.S.A. with the aid of additive manufacturing technology. Here’s how it’s done
By acquiring as much information as possible on a desired car part, a facsimile can be created new. Extremely accurate measurements, dimensions, and angles, are plugged into three-dimensional computer model programs, such Google’s Sketch-Up
, Rhino, or Solidworks. After verification through simple but vital paper print outs of the car part replica, it’s recommended to contact a 3-D manufacturing company that will professionally print the car part. The printer will also be able to make the best judgements regarding plastics and silicone materials for printing that can withstand high-heat or high stress situations, depending on the part’s function.