Skip to main content

I rode in a 3D-printed car (and I kind of liked it)

Share this story

A quick look at the Local Motors Strati might elicit a reaction like, "why does it look like it's made out of Rubbermaid garbage cans?" It's a fair question — continuous tubes of dull black plastic outline virtually every major component of this car in places where you'd normally expect bright, shiny colors. Metal. Chrome. Pretty stuff.

There's a good explanation, though: the Strati is basically willed into existence by an enormous 3D printer that extrudes those lines of plastic making up the car's frame. After that, it's refined using a CNC milling machine, a few mechanical bits are slapped on, and boom, you have a running car.

Local Motors is in the process of assembling a Strati here at the North American International Auto Show, but in the meantime, I had a chance to ride around in one of the company's older prototypes. It's not fast, but the electric drivetrain is definitely quiet and the car comfortably seats two — think of it as a big go-kart. I'm not sure I'd buy one, but I'd certainly print one.

Local Motors Strati at NAIAS 2015