First road-ready 3D-printed car design released

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The way people will drive in the future is the subject of significant debate at the moment. Whether its autonomous cars or electric-propelled automobiles, there is a new story every week. The latest innovation is the design for a road-ready 3D-printed car that could revolutionise production in the car industry.

The company that brought us the first 3D-printed car, Local Motors, has released designs for the first road-ready version. Local Motors hosted a competition asking its design community to come up with road-ready machines. Kevin Lo was the recipient of $7,500 in return for his 3D-printed car design.

The design community had a say in the winning design, along with a panel of judges. One panel member was former Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Speaking about the winning design, he said, “You need something that makes you go ‘What’s that?’”

Kevin Lo, who works full-time at HP, said he chose form over function. The car design, called Reload Redacted, is a simple tub that houses the batteries, seats, motor, and wheels. Lo points out that his design has several advantages over Local Motors’ original 3D-printed car, Strati. “If you look at Strati, it was meant to be a one-piece body — which is a beautiful idea — but the reality is if you take it to a highway level… you have to include safety.”

Lo explained that simple parts make his car far more flexible. A damaged part could be swapped for an identical part or even upgraded. Local Motors could also use the damaged part to analyse what went wrong and assess if any improvements can be made and incorporated into future designs.

Local Motors expects to release its first low-speed electric vehicle next year. Although it doesn’t expect to manufacture Lo’s actual design, it will influence the company’s direction of travel. Local Motors is hoping to have a road-ready 3D printed saleable model available to the market by 2017.

Lo is very much in favour of the approach. When asked whether he would drive a 3D-printed car, he said, “I would like to think, yes. In 10 years, everyone is going to be driving a car with 3D printing in it.”

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