You likely have never heard much about a little start-up company called Local Motors, but The Sleuth says that could soon change. In 2014 the fledgling automaker produced a rough-hewn thermoplastic-bodied electric car with a body made using 3D printing techniques. Recently at the Specialty Equipment MarketAssociation (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas, Nev., a more up-to-date version called the LM3D Swim went on display. The advantage to a 3D-printed car is that the only materials used are what’s on the car. There is little waste and no factories, in the traditional sense. Word is that Local Motors is nearing completion of a factory in Knoxville, Tenn., and will begin taking orders for the car in the spring of 2016 for delivery in 2017. Prices are expected to start in the mid-$50,000 range.
The advantage to a 3D-printed car is that there’s little or no waste, a smaller factory footprint and none of the usual metal/foundary stuff. But then how durable, repairable and strong is the body structure and the outer panels?