ORNL, Local Motors agree to pave way to world’s first 3-D printed vehicle

Local Motors and ORNL on 3-D Printing

A new partnership between Local Motors and ORNL will explore vehicle design and construction using 3-D printing technologies. The project will make use of equipment at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, such as the large-scale additive manufacturing machine operated here by ORNL’s Peter LLoyd.

Local Motors Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a new partnership to develop and deliver technology to produce the world’s first production 3-D printed vehicle.

The cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, between Local Motors and ORNL will explore ways to make vehicle construction more efficient—including by lower production time, costs, and part count—and raise standards for control, safety, aesthetics, and mechanical flexibility.

“The primary tool in this drive for efficiency is a combination of material science and cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques that are both additive and subtractive,” an ORNL press release said. ORNL is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory system.

“By invoking the principle of open-source, this partnership—and future efforts like it—will drive a true paradigm shift in hardware product development and automotive manufacturing technologies,” said Jay Rogers, co-founder and chief executive officers of Local Motors. “Just as exciting as the vision of delivering the first direct digital manufactured car is that we will be engaging future consumers to contribute and evangelize its creation. We are living in a time when speed to market trumps slow-going protectionism. Local Motors’ open development platform is what delivers this very speed.”

The partnership will make use of DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility located at ORNL, which focuses on numerous forms of additive, subtractive, and direct digital manufacturing, the press release said. Its goal is to help industry adopt new manufacturing technologies that reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production costs, and create new products and opportunities for high-paying jobs.

“ORNL prides itself on ‘solving the unsolvable’ and ‘making the unmakeable,’” said Lonnie Love of the lab’s Energy and Transportation Science Division. “This partnership will help push the envelope on emerging technologies, such as large scale additive manufacturing, and help accelerate the growth of manufacturing in the United States.”

Rogers said: “We expect the result of our partnership to be an indisputable win for open source design and the development of complex mechanical devices. The entrepreneurial nature of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and Oak Ridge National Lab is an inspiring example of this nation’s renewed commitment to leadership and innovation in manufacturing.”

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit http://science.energy.gov.

DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility was established at ORNL by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. For more information, visit http://energy.gov/eere/.

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