Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How Local Motors 3-D Printed "Strati" Car Will Help To Pave The Way For Future Designs

Can you imagine how cool it would be to design your own car and print the entire model out from the comfort of your home? Well you can put your imagination away because Local Motors, a micro-manufacturing company out of Phoenix, Arizona, has done just that. Although the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago was more of a center stage event rather than a discrete at-home operation, the team at Local Motors accomplished the incredible feat of printing their "Strati" car design in just 44 hours, and it is very cool.

The average motor vehicle consists of hundreds of separate parts, but the 3-D printed Strati uses only 40 parts. Though very proud of their accomplishment (as they should be), the Local Motors team acknowledged that there is plenty more work to be done in terms of structure and materials used, as well as how to go about fastening additional parts to the printed structure. We've barely broken the surface when it comes to how we can customize and personalize 3-D printed products.

How Might 3-D Printing Affect The Tire Industry?

We have seen some truly incredible products come out of 3-D printing so far. From dinosaur bones to bionic ears, and now a full size car. Will something as common place as tires become a 3-D printing norm? If so, we should not expect to print out Michelin or Bridgestone quality tires from a 3-D printer. The printed tire will roll, but there is no way to mimic the design of a top quality tire right now.

Thousands of tires are manufactured every day around the world. With 3-D printing technology we can eliminate the need for the standard engineering and tooling required for traditional manufacturing, thus being able to produce at a faster rate. I do not know what sort of impact this will have on the job market, but in terms of efficiency it seems like a home run.

3-D Printed Bionic Ear

3-D Printed Dinosaur Bone

When I first heard the term "3-D printing", I imagined a machine that could print out a physical version of a product that you can search for on the web. Upon learning more about the 3-D printing process, it's funny to see just how close my assumption actually was.

While it is not as simple as selecting an image and pressing "Print in 3-D", the 3-D printing process enables the creation of physical objects from a 3-D file. The printer then builds the object, layer by layer.

Local Motors has proven to us that the future of 3-D printing is very bright and hopefully as convenient as the time-lapse video above makes it seem. We could be on the verge of a third Industrial Revolution right now, and I for one am very excited to see how 3-D printing evolves in the coming years.

Would you like to print your own tires, or would you rather stick to the trusted name brand manufacturers?

Monday, August 18, 2014

American Muscle Monday: The 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner

Beep! Beep! That familiar sound comes from one of your favorite childhood television characters as well as this weeks American Muscle Monday focus. The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner was designed to run the quarter mile in under 14 seconds and run the consumer less than $3,000. Mind you that $3,000 in 1968 is equivalent to over $20,000 today, the quality and overall appeal of the Road Runner justifies the price.

This commercial is one of the originals that were used to sell the Plymouth Road Runner in 1968. Plymouth forked over $50,000 to Warner Bros to earn the rights to the road runner name, and spent an additional $10,000 to create their signature horn, which mimicked the "Beep! Beep!" noise of the famous cartoon character himself.

The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner model featured:
  • A spartan interior with a basic cloth & vinyl bench seat (there were no carpets in the early models)
  • Power steering
  • Front disc brakes
  • AM radio
  • Air conditioning
  • Automatic transmission
  • A floor mounted shifter (four speed only)
The earliest models were only available as two door coupes, and the 383 CID (6.3 L) road runner V8 engine came standard on all Plymouth Road Runner models.