Thermoplastic car 3-D printed, assembled at IMTS

Local Motors printed the parts and assembled the car at the show, employing a Cincinnati additive manufacturing machine using a SABIC thermoplastic reinforced with 15 percent of chopped carbon fiber.

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One of the biggest attractions at the International Machine Tool Show (IMTS, Sept. 8-13, Chicago, Ill., USA) represented a significant departure from the show's traditional theme of metals machining and cutting. Local Motors (Phoenix, Ariz., USA), working with Cincinnati Inc. (Harrison, Ohio, USA), Oak Ridge National Labs (Oak Ridge, Tenn., USA) and SABIC (Pittsfield, Mass., USA), manufactured and assembled in just 44 hours during the show an all-electric thermoplastic car.

The manufacturing was done on a Cincinnati Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine at the show, which printed car parts using SABIC's LNP STAT-CON carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic. The material is supplied in pellet form with chopped carbon fiber loadings of about 15 percent.

Car components (passenger tub, fenders, front end, back end, etc.) were delivered from the machine to an adjacent assembly area in the North Hall of McCormick Place, where the show was held. There, Local Motors workers assembled the car, finishing it on Saturday, Sept. 13, when it was driven out of the hall.

The car, dubbed the Strati, is a two-passenger "neighborhood" car with a range of up to 120 miles/193 km per charge and a maximum speed of 40 mph/64 kmh. Local Motors CEO John Rodgers told Scientific American that he hopes to reduce vehicle assembly time to 10 hours. The car will cost $18,000 to $30,000 and will enter the market later this year. 

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