UT students help build first 3-D printed car
UT engineering students are part of the team that made the world's first 3-D printed car.
The Strati 3-D made its debut over the weekend at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. Local Motors, which has an office on Market Square, officially produced the car with the help of UT students, the Oak Ridge National Lab and others.
The 3-D printer built one layer of the car at a time. Local Motors' CEO says the car will likely cost between $18,000 and $30,000. The hope is that it will eventually be built while you wait.
"This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo," said John B. Rogers Jr., CEO of Local Motors. "It changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way."
Local Motors says it plans to put the car into production and make it available to the public in the coming months. It plans to use UT students to help in that process.
Local Motors opening 3D-printed car factory in Knoxville
(WBIR - West Knoxville) Local Motors, a company based near Phoenix is in the process of opening "America's first digital micro factory" to 3D-print cars in Knoxville, according to the company's CEO Jay Rogers. He said the expansion will add 200 jobs.
The company has already constructed the building off of Pellissippi Parkway in West Knoxville and plans to move in the 3D-printers soon. Rogers expects production to start by mid-2016.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Lab discovered the technology to 3D-print structural-grade material quickly. When Rogers learned about the discovery, he decided to partner with ORNL to make the world's first 3D-printed car.
It debuted in Chicago in September 2014.
Rogers said ORNL is one of the driving factors in the decision to build the factory in Knoxville.
"Here we've got Oak Ridge and we've got UT, and those two poles leave a lot of land in between in what we now call the Tennessee Technology Corridor. That innovation corridor is really what's growing up in between," Rogers said.
He added graduates from UT and Pellissippi State's two-year programs will also be a valuable pool to choose the workforce.
Local Motors plans to print two models at the Knoxville factory: a neighborhood electric vehicle and a certified highway vehicle. Customers will purchase the cars online and be involved in the design.
The neighborhood electric, which will cost around $12,000, cannot go on the highway. Its speed limited by law to no more than 35 miles per hour. Rogers described it as a "daily runabout" vehicle.
The highway vehicle still needs to be certified but will be available to use on all roads. It's expected to cost $53,000.
Rogers said the Knoxville factory is "the physical end for all of our online designs that come in from around the world." He said customers will order the cars online and be a part of the design process.
"We have the opportunity to do highly attractive, highly technology forward, highly safe cars at low volume. That's what a micro factory can produce," Rogers said, "A 3D car, ushers in an entirely new world of automotive production."
Our partners at USA TODAY describe 3D-printing as a machine that shoots out ribbons of carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastics, much like toothpaste coming out of the tube.
Rogers said they plan to build 100 micro-factories, like Knoxville's, all over the world in the next 10 years. The company is currently building a parallel factory in the Washington D.C. area.