3D printing could change the cars we drive 

Technology company Local Motors from Arizona, USA, aims to launch the first commercially available car made largely with 3D-printed parts in 2017. The company says it will use the technique to manufacture 75% of components in its LM3D series of vehicles – from the body panels to chassis – and hopes to increase this to 90%.

Local Motors aims to produce vehicles to meet local needs, which it would make using a global network of factories, each smaller than a football pitch. The company runs a global online co-creation community, with members ranging from hobbyists to professionals contributing design ideas, and engineering and manufacturing experience. Read more about Local Motors.

Shell is also testing the 3D printing of car parts. It is building an energy-efficient concept car for cities, under the name Project M, which contains several plastic components produced with a 3D printer. The technology allowed the car designers to avoid tooling – the conventional, but time-consuming, process of building metal moulds to make components. “As technology develops and the cost comes down, 3D printing will become more and more viable for mass production,” says Matt Brewerton, a senior design engineer for Project M. Read more about the project.