The LM3D Swim, which comes at a price tag of $53,000, is the world’s first commercial 3D-printed car, and will be ready to be purchased next year.
On July 7, the Reload Redacted – Swim and Sport won the competition launched by Local Motors to create a roadworthy car by employing mostly 3D-printing techniques.
Its creator, HP employee Kevin Lo, managed to convince the panel of judges that his design perfectly embodied the concept of direct digital manufacturing (DDM).
This state-of-the-art technology had also been used by Local Motors to 3D-print a low-speed electric vehicle called Strati, at the 2015 Detroit auto show, in January.
The build of the new prototype designed by Lo was finalized on September 18, according to company officials. The car was unveiled at the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, taking place this week, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“We are using the power of DDM to create new vehicles at a pace unparalleled in the auto industry, and we’re thrilled to begin taking orders on 3D-printed cars next year”, declared Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers.
It may be surprising that Local Motors has managed to put together this vehicle so swiftly, but in September 2014 the car-maker which combines micro-manufacturing and co-creation has achieved a similarly remarkable feat.
At the time, it wowed at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, when it managed to 3D-print a car in less than a week, using a BAAM machine and carbon-reinforced plastic.
Now, the company’s most recent project, which has been renamed as LM3D Swim, aims to be the world’s first customizable and commercially available 3D-printed car.
As part of its original model, it features easily removable body panels, but for now it’s uncertain if this characteristic will be maintained in the product to be placed for sale.
In total, the vehicle has less than 50 individual components, which is an incredibly low number, given that traditional cars have more than 30,000 parts. Also, the car incorporates GPS mapping software, and is environment-friendly, since it’s entirely electric.
Pre-sales are likely to begin in the spring of 2016, using the popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Afterwards, retail sales for the 3D-printed vehicle will also be launched later that year.
At the moment an automotive partner is being sought, to help create the automobile’s chassis and powertrain. Crash tests assessing the durability and strength of the materials will be finalized by the end of 2016, and it is expected that eventually the vehicle will meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
This means that certification from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration might come as late as 2017. Initially, provided that market demand is sufficient, approximately 2,400 LM3D Swim cars will be manufactured every year, at a Knoxville, Tennesssee factory which will open in 2016.
Only time will tell if this business venture will pay off, and if these innovative vehicles which will be custom-tailored to individual taste will also prove to be fit for the road, effective and safe.
Image Source: Local Motors