Challenge for the 3D Printed Car for IMTS Project

Challenge: 3D Printed Car Design Challenge

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Design Brief: 

Design the Local Motors 3D printed car, also known as the Direct Digital Manufactured Vehicle (DDMV). Use the specifications and information provided in the design brief to create a design that will strongly influence the final design that will be built at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, in September 2014. 


Local Motors will be pioneering the the use of large scale 3D printing technology to print a full size functional electric vehicle to explore the use of rapid additive and subtractive manufacturing methods in the realm of automotive manufacturing. 

The Problem:

Currently, producing a new car from a new design represents either a significant investment in tooling, or a large commitment in time for someone to produce a design free form if the tooling does not exist. In addition the need for all that production tooling is the result of just how many parts are required to produce the structure of a car. Just to create the cabin of a car, there are exterior body panels, trim, internal structure for rigidity, interior panels, dash covers... even the seats themselves contribute to a seriously overblown Bill of Materials. So the fundamental issue is, what can be done to reduce the initial investment in producing a design, reduce the part count, and reduce the follow-up investment that will be required if the design changes? Imagine if you could create the major elements of the exterior, the structure, and the Interior associated with a vehicle in one part. Then think of changing the design, or even taking on an entirely new one represented no additional cost in tooling. This is what we want investigated in the Direct Digital Manufacturing Project!

The Method:

While "Direct Digital Manufacturing" (DDM) is a term that can refer to many processes, for this portion of it we are focused on investigating the proper use of a hybrid additive/subtractive machine the is being developed at Oak Ridge National Labs. This machine uses a large diameter extrusion head to 3D print objects at high speed, then on the same head it also uses a router to come back and machine surfaces to a more precise specification where required. This means that we can create car-scale forms very quickly and freely to machined precision, but without the necessity of forming tools, etc. The challenges are to figure out:

What does the best structure look like? 

What materials should be used and when? 

What the best way to fasten to the structure? 

Our Goals:

Once we have answered the above questions, we have certain objectives that we will use that knowledge to complete:

  • To create the majority structure of a new vehicle using an additive/subtractive hybrid methodology.
  • To define this methodology enough to do an aesthetic study in how this vehicle could be styled.
  • To apply an electric powertrain to this vehicle and have the structure support it.
  • To DEMONSTRATE that this methodology could be more economical compared to other existing methods, with a early build happening at the IMTS show in 2014, and following up with creating a production level design in the months following the show.

Judging Panel
Submissions to the Local Motors 3D-Printed Car Design Challenge will be voted on by the Local Motors Community, and judged by an independent panel of experts including:

• Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot and Local Motors board member
• Lonnie Love Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Automation, Robotics and manufacturing group
• Rick Neff, Manager, Market Development, Cincinnati Incorporated,
• Douglas K. Woods, President, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology,
• Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications, AMT– The Association For Manufacturing Technology, and
• Paul Warndorf, Vice President – Manufacturing Technology, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.

Each juror will evaluate the creativity as well as the compliance of entries to the requirements listed in the brief and will deliver a list of 6 designs that stand out and match the requirements of the 6 jury selected awards. The Local Motors team will then compile and weighing in on the jury's selection and announce on Tuesday, June 3rd the winners of each prize and award.

• 1st Place Overall $5000 & ticket/trip to IMTS
This prize celebrates the entry bringing the most creativity while being in line with the technical specifications of the process that will be used to print the first 3D printed car during the International Manufacturing Technology Show held in Chicago in September 2014.

• 1 "Community Favorite" to highest voted design from purely community feedback/votes $1000
This award crowns the community’s favorite designated through community vote.

• Up to 5 Innovation Awards to for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process: $1000 each

These awards celebrate innovative ideas that could have an impact on the 3D printing process we use for this car or in the future.

Go check out the requirements for additional information.


1st Place Overall
1st Place Judges Pick, car to inspire design for IMTS
Community Favorite
Awarded to highest voted design by the community.
Innovation Award
Innovation Award for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process
Innovation Award
Innovation Award for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process
Innovation Award
Innovation Award for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process
Innovation Award
Innovation Award for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process
Innovation Award
Innovation Award for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D printing process

Ignition Kit File Downloads


- Design your vision of the Local Motors 3D printed car

- Must seat 2 people following the package configuration (provided in the ignition kit). This cannot be changed. The location of the motor, battery, and passengers is "frozen" and thus you may not change the h-point of the passengers, or the position of any of the elements in the provided packaging/ CAD files. This includes the wheelbase and track width. Any modification of the packaging will result in an invalid entry. 

- Must include 4 wheels and battery pack following the package configuration (ignition kit). The wheels, tries, batteries and suspension components have been chosen and thus should not be changed. 

- Must embed the major elements and functions of the exterior, the structure, and the interior in one main printed part.

- Cannot have mechanical openings (no doors, no hood, no trunk lid... )

- Must have some kind of windshield / wind deflector


For the Additive Process:


- Fits in a 12’ long, 6’ wide, 34” high box (3,657mm by 1,828mm by 863mm)

- 45º angle overhang max without support. 

- printed height:  5/32" (.16") or 4mm per layer

- printed width: 11/32" (.32") or 8mm per bead

- Print in one print-- the goal is to create a design that fuses internal and external parts into one single body. This is not the conventional production process of a body on frame. 

- Keep the design simple and eliminate moving parts such as doors, hood and trunk lids. 

- Roof:

Roof is optional but encouraged (this will be shown at Chicago in September) and it can be a separate piece like a hardshell. Using 3D printing process for this is encouraged. 

- Dimensions of the vehicle (these are available in the ignition kit) as well: 

  • Wheelbase: 2300mm (7' 6 1/2")
  • Track Width: 1700mm (5' 6 15/16")

Challenge Terms and Conditions