With the advent of three-dimensional printing, the aspirations and ambitions of many creative inventors across the world have used this technology to create everything from printable models of buildings for city planning to gun parts. On of the most ambitious ideas to come from three-dimension printing is the idea of the printed automobile. It’s not just a dream anymore, it is a reality, and the world’s first 3D-printed automobile was recently taken on a test drive by Popular Mechanics magazine, and it was deemed “a pleasure to drive.” In fact, this magazine gave a thorough review of this car, dubbed the “Strasi” by Local Motors. This vehicle prototype costs approximately $5,000 including the electric engine that propels it. The technology is a great idea for developing countries who are looking to modernize transportation and has the potential to one day allow anyone to individually customize their vehicle and have it printed and ready to go in less than 24 hours. Its featherweight frame would make it a breeze to work on, especially for repairs that require the use of a good floor jack to get the vehicle up in the air. There is also a sense of sustainability about this concept. If one were to damage the chassis “tub” of the vehicle, the engine could simply be removed, the car melted down, and reprinted to the original specifications or modified. The possibility of creativity with this concept technology is simply remarkable.
Now, when it comes to the ability to maintain these vehicles, the cost associated with such maintenance would be next to nil. The current concept uses an electric motor from a golf cart, but the production models of the future will likely feature a sleek, more powerful electric motor. This eliminates the need for an oil change, as these motors do not require oil to run. Basically, the only at-home maintenance needed would be along the lines of a tire change due to a flat. With the incredible light weight of these vehicles, as mentioned above, the floor jack required to perform this change would not require a very high weight limit, thereby saving the consumer even more money when selecting a carry-on jack. The amount of work used to hoist the vehicle on the jack would be almost effortless, and the tire change would be a breeze. In fact, some manufacturers may allow consumers to print their own proprietary floor jack to go along with the new vehicle.
So, while the “Strasi” concept car is just that – a concept car – it could be the start of a revolution in the automobile industry. Some manufacturers may see this as a threat, others will just on board, making sure to modify their production lines to include these easy-to-produce, inexpensive, and highly-customizable ideas for the next generation market of car buyers. While the widespread use of the technology in everyday life is probably decades away, it is easy to see the potential here, maybe one day even being able to customize a new car from the living room computer, picking it up the next day, printed, assembled, and ready to go.