3d Printed Cars? Henry Ford Eat Your Heart Out

3d Printed Cars Could Be A Reality Soon!

Did Henry Ford the visionary, see this one coming? Something that could side step the dominance of assembly or production line… Something that could change the way we conceive of manufacturing?

3d Printed Car - The Strati
3d Printed Car – The Strati

3d Printing Cars, One Of The Most Revolutionary Changes To Auto Manufacture Since The Assembly Line?

Yes, this could change the way we produce something which arguably has defined our modern lifestyles; ‘the car’.

The advent of the mass manufactured automobile could be one of the most fundamental changes modern mankind has encountered. It gave us freedom to roam so much further than we ever had before. To pack the family up and move it and just about whatever else we wanted. Yes, we were soon able to  jaunt off hundreds if not thousands of miles away in a short space of time. This all became possible because of the automobile produced out of the modern manufacturing assembly line.

3d Printed Car - The Strati
3d Printed Car – The Strati

This innovation made famous by Henry Ford took the cost of the average car down into the hands of the average person or the middle classes. It meant that just about everyone was able to afford a car. From there the rest was history. It could also be argued that not much changed from there until now. Perhaps save to say the move of these massive manufacturing facilities to the shores of the lowest cost labour providers. Examples would be initially Japan, then on to countries like Korea and of course China.

The 3d Printed Car In Time Lapse!

Check out the video and see the time-lapse production courtesy of Local Motors.

Could The 3d Printed Car Change Everything?

Yes, I feel that the move to begin manufacturing cars and components using 3d printers could change everything about the modern automobile and how it is made.

It could be the start of a the next revolution that could be called distributed or democratised manufacturing. What this could do is allow anyone with the equipment to manufacture things such as the automobile to extremely high standards. Not to mention making them just about anywhere they want.

With the right 3d Printing systems and 3d design files, you could conceivably be printing a car in a shed anywhere in the world, without the need of a massive production line. Sure, it would initially mean that these vehicles would not be produced so fast or with as many ‘bells and whistles’, but they would not really have anything like the same inherent manufacturing costs.

3d Printed Car, From Assembly Line To Co-Op?

It could be ‘back to the future’.  I could easily see this model lending itself to the co-op type model for the production of the a 3d Printed Car onslaught. Fred will make the chassis, John makes the wheels, Betty produces the interiors and so on. Each party in the co-op pumping out what they specialise in. The co-op sends the prototype to the ‘crash tester’ for certification and bingo, we are 3d Printing our way to a new future.

 The 3d Printed Car Lends Itself To Innovation

In fact, I would go so far as to say that this distributed manufacturing model I have just described has the possibilities to take us to new heights of innovation. Where the new world democratised manufacturers could quickly add new innovations in engine and other technologies that could leave the old model behind with all it’s inherent bureaucracy and overhead.

3d Printed Car, Take Away Your Limiting Beliefs

Often what happens at the early stages in any revolution such as the 3d Printed Car, is that our current knowledge about the world around us hides us seeing the new paradigm.  We start to say things like, “yes, but it’s a dinky little car, it’s too slow compared with how a production line works, It can’t possibly compete”.  The trouble is we are basing our evaluations on what is, not what will be.  We see the big guys like Toyota, GMH and others.  We feel they are too big to fall.  In true revolutions the mighty are sometimes the most vulnerable due to their success.  Their investments in their current models may limit their ability to adopt the new manufacturing ways.  Sure they often use these technologies, but it is to try to ‘shoe horn’ the technology into their existing manufacturing models.

The technology is indeed at the base of the curve and needs to be advanced.  But think a little further forward and imagine what could be in 5 to 10 years…

Strati Team – 3d Printed Car While You Wait

In the video below the Strati team actually produce a Car at the IMTS Conference in four days.  You could of course argue that it is not a completely ‘3d Printed Car’.  But remember let’s just extrapolate a few years and then we can see where 3d Printing of cars could be.

This video gives you a sense of what could happen with innovators leading the way to break through into new ways of doing things in this space.  The team that show what is possible right now are pushing the boundaries.  The technology for this “3d Printed Car” is raw and not yet ideal.  None the less, this team put together a car.  Fast forward this picture a few years and the change will be startling.  This is likely to shake the grip of mass manufacturers on what is being served up to us as products.

Has The Advancement Of The Modern Car Been Held Back?

I am going to put forward a theory that the modern car has been held back by the large and powerful Auto companies and the production process.  Inherent in the modern production line is a huge cost of re-tooling.  This means that the bias in the process is to hold back innovation.  Sure the marketing spin will tell you that innovation is exploding in each new model.  But in real terms to make many changes and to do them in any radical way would cost a fortune for a big car maker.  If you take a really hard look at the car and how it has evolved over the last 40 years, there has been only superficial changes and fine tuning.  Perhaps now we will see a level of innovation that will take us in many new directions simultaneously.  This is simply due to diversity.  A thousand or more new innovators could take this challenge on and produce cars and systems that are not constricted by all the limitations of the monolithic manufacturing Corporations.

With entrants such as Google with innovations like the Driverless Car.  It’s possible to see how new manufacturing modes and breaking new systems could be coupled with smart fast moving companies to produce highly competitive vehicles.




3d Printed Cars? Henry Ford Eat Your Heart Out

Thanks to Local Motors.

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