Local Motors has started testing the process for 3D printing an electric version of the Rally Fighter, a project announced this past February. Local Motors will put the printing process on display at the International Manufacturing Technology Show on September 8th in Chicago, IL, giving the team 6 days to complete the print before the shows end.
With the assistance of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s expertise and equipment, Local Motors got the first test print under their belt earlier this month. Anyone that has experienced the 3D printing revolution first hand knows that it’s an incredibly complex ordeal; any small variance in temperature or the material can cause catastrophic failure, making these first prints immensely important, especially because of Local Motor’s self-imposed time limit.
After an exhaustive four-month design process, the team felt confident enough to print what they’re referring to as a “test mule.” The chassis has a one piece design that’s printed in ascending layers during the 45 hour process. A pair of thermal cameras provided the ability to closely examine the bonding process. The goal of this project is to print as much of the Rally Fighter as possible, forsaking traditional manufacturing processes.
Working from the outside in, the team completed the first layer in just an hour. Despite the initial progress though, Local Motors was unable to complete the print job due to unforeseen concerns. Software complications led to coding translation errors, but the worse was material contraction during the cooling process. The contraction was a result of the piece’s large size, and led to technical hitches that ended the day’s progress on the 9th layer of printing. Had the work carried on, eventually Local Motors would have printed this;
Even with these delays, the first day’s work isn’t as much of a failure as it seems. While a perfect launch would have been nice, it’s important for the Local Motors design team to get an opportunity to work out any kinks it can before the show. As they say, practice makes perfect, and 3D Printing a car in less than a week is a tall order.
Source | Pictures: Local Motors