John B. Rogers, 41, has a clear vision for his Arizona-based enterprise, Local Motors. He wants to show that in the digital age, there’s more than one way to build a car. Instead of highly complex multi-million-dollar production lines, Local Motors uses 3D printers to generate prototypes, and creates the finished article at super-fast, highly agile microfactories. The ideas for designs and technology come from the crowd.
The Local Motors online community’s 48,000-plus members exchange ideas on which car should be built next and how. As a Web 2.0 automotive manufacturer, Rogers places particular emphasis on personalization and localization. “We want to give people the car they need. It must suit the climate where they live, and be affordable for them.”
Just 50 parts were used in the Strati 3D roadster. Normally, cars contain up to 10,000 components.
The Strati is the world’s first electric car made entirely using 3D printing technology. It was printed and assembled in September 2014 at a technology exhibition in Chicago, in front of a live audience. The roadster’s body and chassis were printed in a total of just 44 hours, in a process similar to the operation of a hot-glue gun. It then took 15 hours to sand, shape and polish the vehicle, and two days to fi t it with the electric powertrain from a Renault Twizy. This particularly rapid manual assembly is only possible because the two-seater vehicle consists of just 50 parts, compared to a typical car, which has up to 10,000 components. Local Motors expects the Strati to be declared fi t for the road by this summer.