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First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago

"Telsa made the electric drive train famous, we’re changing the whole car," said John Rogers.

By
Brooks Hays

CHICAGO, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A world record was broken at the International Manufacturing Technology Show, held in Chicago last week. For the first time ever, a car was made using a 3D printer.

The small electric car is the product of countless hours of design work by engineers at Local Motors -- a small car-centric tech company based in Arizona -- but it took only two days to print and assemble.

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Composed of just 50 separate components, each of them made of carbon fiber plastic, the Strati -- Italian for "layer" -- will retail for a base price of $18,000 and could be on the market as soon as 2015. Most cars have more than 5,000 different parts.

The initial design was sourced from online collaborators, and then perfected by the company's engineers. Local Motors CEO John Rogers says early models will be intended for city streets only, but that future iterations could be approved for highway use.

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Rogers and his company, which began collaborating with the federally-funded Oak Ridge National Laboratory to make the Strati a reality, are hopeful they can reduce their production time as they better hone the printer and their process.

"We expect in the next couple of months to be below 24 hours and then eventually get it below 10 hours," Rogers told Scientific American. "This is in a matter of months. Today, the best Detroit or Germany can do is 10 hours on a [production] line, after hundreds of years of progress."

"Telsa made the electric drive train famous, we're changing the whole car," Rogers told Mashable.

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