The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is where car lovers and industry insiders go to see the latest innovations in auto manufacturing on display, and to learn what new models the big name car companies will be bringing to market within the next few years. At this year’s show, however, it wasn’t Ford or Toyota that caught everyone’s attention: it was newcomer Local Motors, who left a big impression by 3D printing a road-ready vehicle at the show. Even more exciting, the company has announced that it plans to make its new 3D printed car, called the Stratti, available for purchase by 2017.
Direct Digital Manufacturing
In the last few years, newcomers to the auto industry such as Tesla and Local Motors have been stirring the pot, offering innovative new products that the established brand names and giant conglomerates have been shying away from. Like Tesla’s electric cars (which were recently updated with preliminary software that gives the cars self-driving abilities), Local Motors’ Stratti is a stunningly progressive addition to the sometimes slow to innovate auto industry. If it proves to be successful, it could introduce a whole new method of production into the car manufacturing cycle.
That method of production, which Local Motors has dubbed “direct digital manufacturing” (DDM), is innovative in more ways than one. Instead of operating large manufacturing plants where cars are assembled on an assembly line, the company instead operates out of what it calls “micro-factories,” small assembly areas where customers can not only assemble their own car, but even “co-create” them by tweaking designs to their liking.
In fact, the design for the Stratti (or LM3D, when it is called by its model number) was created as part of a design contest held among customers at Local Motors’ micro-factories. Out of 62 entries, the winning design by contestant Kevin Lo was picked in tandem by the community and an assembled panel of judges. Lo then worked with the company to bring his design into reality.
Unleashing the Potential of CAD
Lo and Local Motors’ innovative new project shows how the use of CAD has the potential to dramatically alter the way many products and technologies are designed and created. While the major manufacturers have long used computer aided design to help create new prototypes and vehicles, the Stratti takes its use to a whole new level. In the process, it removes many of the labor intensive steps involved in the manufacturing of cars and trucks; the body for the drivable model on display at the Detroit Auto Show was printed in two days, without the need for a line of assembly workers to put it together.
Q-CAD has long embraced CAD as a powerful design tool that allows us to create more accurate and immersive plans for our designs. To learn more about how we use CAD architectural drafting, and how it improves the planning process, contact us today at 800-700-3305.