The car that a 3-D printer made

The car that a 3-D printer made
The 3D printed Strati.

TOKYO - Metal moulds, welding robots and machine presses will no longer be needed to manufacture automobiles, if all goes according to the plans of one US company.

A new age in automaking is about to arrive as Local Motors develops a plant with the aim of starting commercial production in 2015.

The centerpiece of the facility -- a 3-D printer.

The machine will make carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic bodies and fenders for compact electric vehicles. The time taken to produce parts is long compared to those of current vehicles made by welding together press-formed sheets of steel. However, because metal moulds are not used, the freedom to design is greater. It will also be possible to create a plant that can produce differently designed bodies to suit customer preferences.

A new car is born

Local Motors has created the Strati -- a printed car developed with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As of February, the company had produced four of the vehicles, of which two are electric, and capable of running.

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