6/10/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

IMTS’s 3D Printed Car Will Be Made of Carbon-Fiber-Filled Plastic

Winning car design announced out of more than 200 entries. The major structure of the car will be 3D printed at the show.

The collaborative engineering and manufacturing firm Local Motors has announced that the car in this illustration will be 3D printed at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). This car design—called “Strati” by its creator, Michele Anoé of Italy—was the winner out of more than 200 entries submitted to Local Motors’ 3D Printed Car Design Challenge.

At IMTS, the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine developed by Cincinnati Incorporated and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be used to 3D print the major structure of the car. Rather than being made of metal, this structure will be printed in ABS that is 15 percent filled with carbon fiber. Local Motors advanced manufacturing engineer James Earle says this might be the first car to have a structure made entirely from carbon-fiber-reinforced material.

The moving components of the car will not be 3D printed. The motor (the car is electric) and powertrain will be assembled within the printed structure. In attempting to get Mr. Earle to catalog how much of the car will be 3D printed, I asked him, “The chassis, the body panels?”

Wrong question. Additive production enables manufacturers to rethink their designs, and part of that rethinking is replacing assemblies of discrete components with monolithic printed pieces. In the case of the car, that means the distinction between chassis structure and exterior panels goes away, says Mr. Earle. It’s all just one big piece. This monolithic car form is what will be generated at IMTS, in a 3D printing cycle that he guesses will take around 40 hours.

(Interested in learning more about additive manufacturing at IMTS? Check out the show’s Additive Manufacturing Workshop, co-produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.)