[VIDEO] How the world's first 3D printed car, the Strati, is made
Local Motors, together with Cincinnati Incorporated, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, have unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed, drivable vehicle.
Called the Strati, the car was built in three phases during the International Manufacturing Technology Show, hosted in Chicago.
PHASE ONE: The car was 3D-printed on a Cincinnati Incorporated BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine) over 44 hours using cutting edge technology called additive manufacturing.
PHASE TWO: Known as subtractive manufacturing, included one day of milling on a machine provided by Thermwood.
PHASE THREE: Rapid assembly, in which a team led by Local Motors put the finishing touches on the world’s first 3D-printed car. Then, the key was turned and the vehicle set off on its maiden voyage, marking an important moment in history.
“At Local Motors, we are changing the way people move,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. “Using 3D printing, we have reimagined how cars are created using modern manufacturing techniques. The results are astounding. We have reduced the amount of car parts from 25,000 to less than 50, proving that we can take a car from designed to driven in less than six months. That is the game changer in the automotive world.”
A team of industry experts came together to build the Strati, including SABIC Innovative Plastics, who provided the carbon reinforced ABS Plastic used to 3D print some of the first iterations of the car. Renault donated the powertrain from the Twizy. Siemens provided the Solid Edge software for the structural design elements and Fifteen52 built custom wheels to match the design.
Solid Edge was integral in preparing the Strati for 3D printing. The mechanical component parts for the Strati were leveraged from the Renault Twizy. As the design files were not initially integrated with the design of the 3D printed portion of the car, virtually all of the components had to be to fit onto the new “chassis.”
Alex Fiechter, Head of Innovation at Local Motors, explained how Solid Edge provided the answer, “by enabling us to easily import and modify the component parts to design our own intermediate structures that would reliably mount to the ABS/Carbon material extruded by the 3D printer.”
To watch the entire manufacturing process, click on the video link above and see a time-lapse of the Strati’s production.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.