A car is being 3D printed on the show floor at the Detroit Motor Show this week - a world-first.

The Strati is being manufactured in real-time as delegates watch on during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

The Strati is the first car to be fully 3D printed (aside from the mechanics and tyres)
The Strati is the first car to be fully 3D printed (aside from the mechanics and tyres)

It will take Local Motors, an auto manufacturing startup firm from Phoenix, US, 44 hours to print out the car's chassis, exterior body and some of its interior features. The Strati rivals the Urbee, a car famed for having 3D printed panels and features - but not a 3D printed frame. 

The Strati (Italian for layers) can reach speeds of 25-miles-per-hour and costs between $18,000 (£12,000) and $30,000 (£20,000). Local Motors hopes that with further research and development, it will be able to print out models in just 24 hours.

Further, the carmakers believe that the car will receive clearance from US authorities and will be on the road by the end of the year.

The Strati's battery, motors, wiring and suspension are sourced from Renault’s electric-powered city car Twizy.

How it's done

Local Motors uses ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fiber is printed into 212 layers using a fused deposition modeling (FDM) technique. 

Changes to manufacturing

Local Motors uses ‘micro-factories’ which are small, localised plants near to major cities. The firm announced two new micro-factories during NAIAS, one based in Washington, D.C, which will produce the first fleet of 3D-printed cars during the year.

Co-founder and chief executive John Rogers Jr said: “Gone are the days of an economy of scale in order to introduce and commercialise a technology."

"Micro-factories are a great counterpoint because they employ an economy of scope by taking advantage of low cost tooling and co-creation, resulting in the ability to get products to market faster and in less time while using less capital to find a winning concept."

“What's more, a micro-factory, which is typically located within 100 miles of major urban centers, creates more than 100+ local jobs, reduces freight and distribution costs by 97 percent, increases recycling and reduces waste while speeding delivery time to market.”