Finally, the world's first 3D printed supercar is here! Well, maybe not quite yet. The DM Blade by Divergent Microfactories out of San Francisco, California has been heralded as the first supercar that can be made using a 3D printer. The big catch here is that only certain parts of the car can actually be printed in this fashion.
The only parts of the DM Blade that are actually made from a 3D printer are called "nodes." These nodes are joint pieces that are made out of 3D printed aluminum and connected with carbon fiber tubes to create a very lightweight chassis. All of the other parts of the car have to be made in a traditional manner which is a bit disappointing.
While you might not be able to print this car from your own home yet, the DM Blade still seems like a pretty cool car. It features a turbocharged four cylinder engine with 700 horsepower. The Blade will have a low curb weight of only 1,400 pounds and can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just two seconds. It will be able to run on typical gasoline or compressed natural gas. Although it may still be too early to get a 3D supercar, 3D printed cars are not that far off.
In 2014, Local Motors debut their plastic car called the Strati at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, Illinois. The car's chassis and body were printed in one piece and the fenders were printed separately. The Strati took 44 hours to print, but Local Motors says that they should be able to get that time down to about 10 hours. After those parts are printed, other components such as the motor, battery, and suspension are added in. Cars like the Strati could cost only about $7,000 to manufacture, which will keep prices down.
The Strati has only about 50 parts, compared to some modern cars that have upwards of 25,000! These cars will also be recyclable as long as they are not painted. The Strati will only have a top speed of 40 mph, but will be very economical. Plans are to have the Strati go on sale late this year, with a price somewhere between $18,000 and $30,000. This two-seater is expected to have a range of over 100 miles as well, so it would be great for a soccer mom.
There have been other examples of 3D printed cars which include the EDAG Genesis that was shown off at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014. The German company calls the 3D printing process "additive manufacturing." Their car showed us that cars of the future could be made in fewer steps by assembling large and strong unibody parts. It also showed us that 3D printed cars face challenges due to problems involving cost and scaling.
At the 2015 North American International Auto Show, Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed off their tribute to the Shelby Cobra. The majority of their car's 70 parts were made using a 3D printer, and took about 24 hours to produce.
It is hard to predict exactly what the future will hold for 3D printed cars. If everyone will be able to afford to drive a supercar, will they really be that special anymore? Would you trust a car that was made from a printer, or do you prefer the old fashioned assembly line approach?