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Local Motors just 3D-printed a car live at an auto show

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Auto shows are typically a place to debut cars, not to build them — but then again, Local Motors isn't your everyday automaker.

The printing of the car takes 44 hours

The Phoenix-based company crowdsources the design of its cars (like the oddball Rally Fighter), and it's showing a refreshed version of its 3D-printed Strati model here. But here's where it gets weird: Local Motors is building the Strati right on the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with printing and routing equipment that it brought in just for the occasion. The machines, encapsulated in glass for safety's sake, don't take much more room than a very small apartment (or a very big closet, depending on how you look at it).

Local Motors Strati

The printing of the car takes 44 hours — just about two full days — after which the rough components are routed and polished to complete the final details and give the Strati a finished look. The whole thing can be done in what Local Motors calls a "micro-factory," a 40,000-square-foot space that contains everything needed to design, build, and sell a car. The company is partnering to open two such micro-factories this year, one in Knoxville, Tennessee and another near Washington, DC in National Harbor. The DC location, which breaks ground in the third quarter of the year, is where Local Motors says the first "fleet" of 3D-printed cars will be sold.