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3D Printing Advancing Auto Industry

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Aug. 4, 2014—In today’s increasingly technological world, it’s no surprise that 3-dimensional (3D) printing is a fast-growing industry, and the automobile industry has been on the cutting edge of the trend for years.

In fact, automobile companies are among the heaviest users of the printing technology, according to a recent article in Inside 3DP.

Increasingly, more automakers and manufacturers are turning to 3D printers to make parts for testing, fitting,  and demonstrating new or custom ideas. The technology allows for parts to be made cheaper, faster and with more flexibility.

"It's potentially a huge deal," Jay Baron, president of the Center for Automotive Research told USA Today in a recent interview about Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is building a car exclusively through 3D printing technology.

"They're going after manufacturing flexibility, low vehicle weight and reducing tooling costs. It would be a disruptive technology that could be the launching pad for other technologies and more consumer choice," Baron added in the interview.

Earlier this year, Fox News reported that Phoenix, Ariz.–based Local Motors, which has in the past used 3D printing to create military vehicle prototypes, is branching out to create an electric sports car using the printing advances.

The sports car, which is called the Strati, is a collaboration between Local Motors, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a Local Motors community member from Italy. Thanks to 3D printing technology, Local Motors told Fox the car took only 43 days to print and put together, though the company is working on making that pace even faster.

The vehicle and process is currently being worked on so it can be printed in Chicago at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in September, Fox reported. 

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