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ORNL Signs CRADA to Make 3-D Printed Cars

Car MF


Talk about futuristic! Last month, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Phoenix-based Local Motors, Inc., signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop and deliver technology to produce the world’s first production 3-D printed vehicle.

Under the CRADA, ORNL and Local Motors will explore vehicle design and construction using 3-D printing technologies, using equipment at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, such as the large-scale additive manufacturing machine that we featured in a Lab Spotlight last December. The CRADA effort will combine material science and cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques, both additive (3-D printing) and subtractive (more traditional machining processes), and will focus on ways to make vehicle construction more efficient.

Jay Rogers, Local Motors co-founder and CEO, expects that the work could lower production time, costs and part count, as well as improve standards of control, safety, aesthetics and mechanical flexibility.

“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 Rogers. “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 expect the result of our partnership to be an indisputable win for open source design and the development of complex mechanical devices.”

“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.”

The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, which focuses on numerous forms of additive, subtractive and direct digital manufacturing, was established with the goal of helping industry adopt new manufacturing technologies that reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production costs, and create new products and opportunities for high-paying jobs.

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