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National Lab and Automaker Sign Agreement to Produce the World's First Production 3D-Printed Vehicle

ORNL and Local Motors sign CRADA to enable rapid design and manufacturing of vehicles through direct digital manufacturing.

by Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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ORNL's Peter Lloyd.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.ORNL

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 (CRADA) between Local Motors and ORNL, part of the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory System, will explore making vehicle construction more efficient, including lower production time, costs, and part count, coupled with higher standards of 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.

“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 CEO 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. Its goal is to help industry adopt new manufacturing technologies that reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production cost 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 & 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.”

Said Rogers, “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.”