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By this point, we are all familiar with the concept of 3D printing, in which a physical object is created from a digital model. As this technology becomes more accessible, we continue to find new ways to employ it. Several companies worldwide are now experimenting with the use of 3D printing to manufacture inexpensive, environmentally friendly vehicles, and many predict 3D printed cars will eventually become the norm.

A 3D printer can be used to manufacture the chassis, body, and even the dashboard of a vehicle. The wheels, engine and controls are then attached.

The world’s first 3D printed car, the Urbee, was unveiled in 2013. Last year, a company called Local Motors created the Strati. Local Motors envisions a manufacturing process comprised of “microfactories” throughout the globe, as a way to create jobs, increase recycling, and reduce distribution costs and waste.

Divergent Microfactories, Inc., of San Francisco recently revealed a prototype “supercar” manufactured entirely through 3D printing. The company predicts that the vehicle, called the Blade, will drastically reduce pollution, materials, and capital costs associated with the traditional manufacturing of automobiles. Other countries, such as China, are also experimenting with the use of 3D printing in automobile manufacturing.

Most 3D printed cars are made of a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum, which significantly reduces the overall weight of the car. Various prototypes of 3D printed cars are fueled by gasoline, compressed natural gas, or electricity. Will you be first in line to buy a 3D printed car?
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