3D Printed Car

STRATI – The Future of Automobiles?

By Zach Warchol


Image 1 : Strati  Photocredit: Wikipedia

The process of 3-D printing is revolutionizing technology advancement all around the world. Scientists are using this printing to create limbs and tissue that can function properly in the human body. Ship engineers can use the technology to make spare parts in case of emergency. The rate at which 3-D printing is growing is exponential. In 2012, people scoffed at the idea that a gun could be printed. Now, there are 100’s of videos online showing off various 3-D printed guns of all shapes and sizes. The automotive industry is also reaping the rewards of 3-D printing. Imagine driving a fully functional 3-D car that is made using thousands of parts less than the average manufactured car. Imagine driving a luxury car for a fraction of the luxury price. Imagine driving the Strati.

The Strati, shown in Image 1, is a revolutionary concept that was created at the International Manufacturing Show in Chicago in September of 2014. Produced from a contest winner’s CAD drawing, Strati was printed in less than two days using only 50 parts. The only parts of the car not 3-D printed were the “mechanical parts” such as the batteries, tires, and wiring. This simplified creation of the car has the potential to vastly increase the life of cars. While the current life of a car may be shortened due to component failures, the life span should increase due to the decrease in component failures of the 3-D car. Using only fifty parts will diminish chances of product failure and will allow much more simplified ways to fix the problem. Strati was printed using a carbon fiber infused plastic. This extremely durable, recyclable material allows for a solid foundation. However, stainless steel and the carbon fiber composite will be better options for future use. These will allow for sleeker designs and will allow the consumer to add extra features. Imagine the possibilities. Use a certain design for a month, then, return the car and have it melted down and reconstructed into a completely new vehicle in just days.

The possibilities of this technology are endless. The customization options are a consumer’s dream. Buying a vehicle now may allow for slight alterations in the design process but additive manufacturing allows for a Chipotle type selection process. Consumers can select what features that they want in their perfect car. The car can then be printed almost immediately. The simplification of the automotive design process should allow for a price reduction in all vehicles. Even though the initial spending of companies will increase as a 3-D printer is needed, the production of each vehicle should cost less due to the decrease in labor and number of parts needed to create the vehicle. Even with the exponential growth of 3-D printing, many questions still need asked. The main question: Will the public accept this new technology?

The first car has been created. However, society needs to open up to this technological change. This is a pre-requisite for technological advancement. Will society accept 3-D printing of their vehicles? This is the main roadblock. The technology has to pass the test of the elites, the car manufacturers. Will a manufacturer, such as Ford, be willing to change their entire assembly line production system to accommodate the “Chipotle” style system of customization? The entire auto industry will have to adapt to these changes in production if just one company can reveal this method as profitable. The elites of each company have to do whatever it takes to keep up with the competition. Society will also have to see benefits in order to buy these cars. Looking at the Strati, cars used for the general public will have to be much larger. An extremely small compact car will be of little use. The Strati is also very bland looking. People want bright colors and sleek design options. To compete with current cars, 3-D printing will have to improve in the aesthetics field in order to entire buyers. In addition, the Strati is almost silent. People want flashy cars. They want loud sport cars and the ability to drive fast. The Strati maxes out at 40 miles per hour. Due to the exponential growth of the 3-D printing industry, these improvements can hopefully be made. I believe that they will need to be made in order for society to accept this new technology into their lives. The use of different printing material will have a vast effect on these problems. The use of stainless steel will allow for sleeker designs. The plastic look will just not be appealing to potential buyers. Steel would allow for a variety of different colors and aesthetically pleasing design choices. These pre-requisites need to be fulfilled before 3-D printing takes control of the auto industry.

The Strati itself is not the automobile of the future. However, it is an important stepping stone which will allow the public to get familiarized with the idea of 3-D printing in the auto industry. The decision now lies with the general public and the auto industry elites on whether they will accept this new technology. The Strati illustrates the basics of the technology. Will the growth of 3-D printing in the auto industry follow the same path as 3-D printing in other industries?



Robarts, Stu. (17 September 2014). “World’s first” 3D printed car created and driven by Local Motors”Gizmag. Retrieved October 20,2014, from, http://www.gizmag.com/local-motors-strati-imts/33846/.

Neiger, Chris. (7 October 2014). “Coming soon: The printed car”. BBC Autos. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from, http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20141007-coming-soon-the-printed-car

Kurczewski, Nick. (7 October 2014). “3-D Printed Car: NY Daily News Autos gets a ride in the Local Motors “Strati” 3-D printed roadster”. NY Daily News Auto. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from, http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/news/world-3-d-printed-takes-test-drive-brooklyn-article-1.1966087

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