Two of the bigger — and ongoing — 3D printing stories this year have come from Autodesk (when it announced plans to introduce Spark, a new open platform for 3D printing) and Local Motors (who just this weekend 3D printed and drove the Strati, a 3D printed car, at IMTS in Chicago) respectively.
Now these two companies have announced that they are going to be working in collaboration — to utilize the Spark platform as Local Motors continues to develop the Strati concept.
According to Alex Fiechter, head of community management for Local Motors: “The Spark platform is set to accelerate manufacturing innovation. From capturing our ideas more accurately to guiding Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) and simplifying the creation of machine code, Spark will help us to turn digital models into an actual physical production parts far faster than was previously possible.”
It was only this past Saturday that Local Motors unveiled the Strati to the public at IMTS. It is being developed by the Local Motors team at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of the nation’s leading innovation centers around additive manufacturing. The Strati vehicle design was originally chosen from entries submitted by Local Motors’ global co-creation community and the team will continue to develop it, only now, it transpires, this further development will be using the Spark platform — making it the first large-scale industrial application of Spark.
Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Autodesk is obviously rather pleased about the collaboration: “Local Motors recognizes the capabilities of the Spark platform for industrial manufacturing projects. This collaboration is a natural fit to push the boundaries of large format 3D printing to fundamentally change how things are designed and made.”
They won’t necessarily be using, the still as yet unnamed new Autodesk 3D printer though. Rather they will continue with the BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine created by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated, which is similar to a fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer by taking a 6.5’ x 13’ foot bed laser cutter adding custom hardware to transform it into a massive 3D printer. Spark will help connect automobile digital design information to the 3D printer in a streamlined way for easier visualization and optimization of 3D prints.
According to Local Motors, the Strati simplifies the automotive assembly process and is a result of leveraging the contributions of community, advanced manufacturing tools, and software, like the Spark platform.