In recent years, the technology behind 3D printing has accelerated at warp speed, allowing engineers to print larger and ever more complex creations. Phoenix-based Local Motors is arguably at the forefront of this space race.
The firm began 3D-printing its bare-bones Strati car on the show floor at this week’s Detroit auto show.
Currently, Local Motors operates out of two micro-factories, one in Phoenix, Arizona, the other in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now the group has confirmed its plans to double those facilities, announcing new micro-factories in Knoxville, Tennessee, and outside Washington DC near National Harbor.
The company’s new Knoxville operation signals a collaboration between Local Motors and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which will enable the group to hone manufacturing and tooling efficiencies.
Groundbreaking will begin at the company’s National Harbor micro-factory later this year, which will be tasked with generating the first large scale fleet of 3D-printed Local Motors cars.
“Micro-factories are a great counterpoint because they employ an economy of scope by taking advantage of low cost tooling and co-creation,” commented John Rogers, co-founder of Local Motors. “Resulting in the ability to get products to market faster and in less time while using less capital to find a winning concept.”
The two new facilities are strategically located close to these urban centers (cutting down on car freight and distribution costs) and will generate more than 100 local jobs per plant.
The Strati will be the first in Local Motors’ line of 3D-printed cars, and the car in production at the Detroit show will sport a mid-model refresh of the original design, chosen in May 2014. If all goes to plan, Local Motors wants to open over 100 micro-factories globally within the next 10 years.