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3D-printed cars becoming reality | video

Strati by Michele Anoé was the winning design with a retractable roof and a blend of complexity and practicality.

Picture yourself in one of these hot designs. They're closer than you think.

We're seeing more about the possibilities of 3D-printing driveable cars, and the idea is about to go a step further with the results of an online design competition set to be built later this year.

The competition was held by Local Motors based in the US, which has for several years been a go-to name for specialised, low-volume vehicle fabricating on anything from rally cars and race bikes to ride-on toy and remote controlled vehicles. 

  • Awarded equal first, TaurusNut's Internal Strut Frame is fashioned from a single piece that uses internal bars to support the upper areas, inspired by the structure of bird wings Awarded equal first, TaurusNut's Internal Strut Frame is fashioned from a single piece that uses internal bars to support the upper areas, inspired by the structure of bird wings
  • Strati by Michele Anoé was the winning design with a retractable roof and a blend of complexity and practicality.
Strati by Michele Anoé was the winning design with a retractable roof and a blend of complexity and practicality.
  • The ultra-lightweight LM Supernova by Sebastian.dib10 is inspired by the explosive force of supernovas The ultra-lightweight LM Supernova by Sebastian.dib10 is inspired by the explosive force of supernovas
  • Aeroblade by iMan works around the 3D printing problem of bridging horizontal gaps by using vertical structures to support higher sections of the body Aeroblade by iMan works around the 3D printing problem of bridging horizontal gaps by using vertical structures to support higher sections of the body
  • The e-Spider by Chavito aims for strength with minimal materials, and incorporates a removable roof and plastic windows The e-Spider by Chavito aims for strength with minimal materials, and incorporates a removable roof and plastic windows
  • The Mirage by Velocityopen was designed with a body composed of multiple layers -- the inner one of which works as a crumple zone to protect occupants in an accident
The Mirage by Velocityopen was designed with a body composed of multiple layers -- the inner one of which works as a crumple zone to protect occupants in an accident
  • The 3D PCX by Braunarsch uses an open design with a structural spine through the centre The 3D PCX by Braunarsch uses an open design with a structural spine through the centre

 

Over the past seven years, Local Motors has also become a global online community for people dabbling and vehicle design and technology -- including the increasingly popular 3D printing processes. Abut 30,000 people are part of the group, which has already done work with BMW, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Peterbilt and Shell.

And in September they plan to completely 3d-print a working electric car based on the winning and runner-up entries in the recent design challenge, with draft models already being test-printed -- and one even having been given a test drive.

The design and 3D fabrication process offers the potential for some truly innovative results. However the Local Motors team hasn't detailed the drivetrain for the final vehicle, or which features will be drawn from the winning entries -- the convertible Strati by Michele Anoé and the birdwing-inspired Internal Strut Frame by TaurusNut -- and which will be influenced by the five runners-up also shown in our gallery. So stay tuned to see what emerges.