Advancements in direct digital manufacturing (DDM) will help bring the first 3D-printed car to market soon, according to Justin Fishkin, Chief Strategy Officer of Local Motors.
Local Motors is the company behind the first production 3D-printed car, called the LM3D Swim, and will start taking pre-sale orders in the spring of 2016.
Rapid auto-development cycles enabled by 3D-printing will usher in faster car technology cycles, Fishkin said at the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles this week.
According to the Local Motors, to better protect the environment, the company plans on using previously printed bodies, melting them down, and using the same printing process to build an new exterior. The materials that make up Local Motors’ body is a composite of thermoplastic and carbon fiber, and is can be reduced back to its semi-liquid state, which will allow the company to reuse the older material.
Local Motors chief Strategy officer spoke with Autoblog and stated, “We’re working on that process as we speak, and it’s possible because that material (carbon fiber and thermoplastic) is recyclable.” Additionally, having the ability to recycle the material would allow the exterior to be redesigned, “People might actually want to keep their car longer, or they’ll say, I want to bring it back and we’ll have a better car by the end of the day,” elaborated.
Right now, the company can print a car in about 40 hours, about four fewer than its initial printing times last year. Local Motors has set a goal of whittling that process down to 12 hours.
“We’re finding that if you slow the printer down in certain spots, it’s actually laying it down better, and then that speeds up other parts,” Fishkin said. “It’s simple things and we’re stumbling upon discoveries every day. We’re explorers right now, and we’re getting more efficient.”