The 3D-printed car, easily configurable and made right before your eyes, is coming closer to reality.
A California-based company unveiled a prototype supercar that it says could dramatically reduce ‘‘the pollution, materials and capital costs’’ that go into their manufacture.
And next week, a Phoenix company says it is ready to unveil the design for its ‘‘road-ready’’ 3D-printed car. Last year, it showed a fairly crude version of a car and demonstrated the process of making it at a trade show in Las Vegas.
Both moves show progress toward a car that can be built as soon as the buyer’s preferences are programmed into the machine that then makes it out of carbon fiber.
Divergent Microfactories of San Francisco recently showed what it says is the world’s first 3D-printed supercar, the Blade. The company says it’s eco-friendly because uses a combination of aluminum joints and carbon fiber tubing to make the chassis in minutes, using less material. It is envisioned as having a 700-horsepower engine that uses either compressed natural gas or gasoline. Weighing only 1,400 pounds, it would be capable of zero to 60 mile per hour speeds in about two seconds.
The company says it plans to make a limited number of them in its own plant. Its founder portrays the company as being on the industry’s cutting edge.
‘‘We’ve developed a sustainable path forward for the car industry that we believe will result in a renaissance in car manufacturing, with innovative, eco-friendly cars like Blade being designed and built in microfactories around the world,’’ says Kevin Czinger, CEO of Divergent Microfactories.
Czinger says the goal would be create teams around the world that could built the car in their own ‘‘microfactories.’’
Local Motors, meanwhile, is taking its own approach.
CEO John ‘‘Jay’’ Rogers told USA TODAY last year that he plans to make 3D-printed cars made of carbon-fiber reinforced ABS plastic costing from $18,000 to $30,000. The roofless version he was showing, looking a bit like a carbon-fiber dune buggy, had 50 parts, instead of the thousands in modern cars.
A machine makes the chassis, body -- even the dashboard -- and the wheel, engine and controls are then attached. The process takes about 40 hours. It’s easy to make changes.