In two years, you’ll be able to drive a 3D-printed car

Image: Local Motors
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By 2017, you’ll be able to drive a 3D-printed car, according to a Nov. 3 announcement by US carmaker Local Motors.

The company showed its LM3D concept back at the Detroit Auto Show in January, and while you could drive the 3D-printed car back then, it wasn’t quite ready to barrel down highways. Local Motors has spent the last 10 months making the car safe to actually drive, and strong enough to withstand a collision.

Now, says Local Motors, about 75% of the LM3D is 3D printed using a blend of strong plastic and carbon fiber, which makes it at least as durable as a Corvette.

In a blog post, the company promises to keep testing the design until it exceeds the US government’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, before the planned launch in 2017. The company also hopes to up the 3D-printed portion of the car to 90%, according to its website.

Most cars are made out of thousands of intricate and obscure parts, but the LM3D will have fewer than 50 separate components, which makes it quick to build: The original design was decided upon July 7, and the working, drivable build was completed by Sep. 18—from zero to car in 2 months flat.

That said, hobbyists with their own 3D printers won’t be able to print themselves off a new fender or spoiler up to US safety compliance standards—at least not yet. But the LM3D will be customizable—Local Motors plans to offer a range of different design options with the flexibility and rapid prototyping that 3D printing affords.

“Cars could look radically different but be built on the same platform,” the company said on its site.

Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers, Jr. told an audience at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, a specialty car trade show, that orders for the LM3D will be accepted starting next year. He added that the car will actually be a line of cars that can be updated as trends change.

The cars will be printed at Local Motors’ factory in Tennessee, which is currently under construction. When they roll off the factory line—or the printer bed—they’ll cost $53,000. So if you’re enough of a 3D printing enthusiast to ignore the comparably priced BMW 5 Series or Porsche Boxster, 2017 is going to be a big year for you.