It’s a brave new world, especially when you consider what’s happening in 3D printing these days. The good thing about 3D printing is that it can use recycled materials, leave virtually no waste and eliminate much of the labor associated with conventional assembly.
Meet the Strati
The two-seater battery-powered Strati is made out of only 49 parts, far less than conventional vehicles, which typically have over 5,000 components. A product of Local Motors, an Arizona-based manufacturer, the Strati took just 44 hours to build. Printed entirely of thermoplastic plastic and reinforced carbon fiber, the Strati’s body is rigid and tough. The body is strong where it needs to be and light where reduced weight improves performance. At some points, the thermoplastic platform is just 0.6-inches thick. In other areas–like the car’s central backbone–the material is several inches thick. Local Motors hopes to trim printing times down to 24 hours by the time it brings the car to production. The tires, seats, wheels, battery, wiring, suspension, electric motor and window shield were made using conventional manufacturing techniques. The Strati may not win any races or compete with a Porsche, but it will get you from point A to point B in style and comfort. While early models will only reach golf cart speeds (25 mph), street legal versions will zip right along at a respectable 50 miles per hour–still a bit slow for freeways and turnpikes, but great for neighborhood jaunts.
With few exceptions, the building industry is among the most polluting and inefficient industries. In contrast, 3-D-printing produces zero waste, requires minimal transportation costs, and you can easily melt down the structure for later recycling. Amsterdam’s Dus Architects is revolutionizing the construction industry with the world’s first fully 3-D-printed house. It will have 13 rooms made of interlocking plastic parts, reinforced by concrete for support and insulation.
Shanghai-based engineering company WinSun says they’ve 3-D-printed an entire village. Comprising ten 200-square-meter concrete buildings–each at a cost of just $4,800–WinSun plans to recycle construction and industrial waste into building materials that can be used by its printers.
Seems there’s almost no limit to what we can expect from 3D printing.
Photo courtesy Local Motors