How an autonomous vehicle maker slashed the supply chain with 3D printing

The Local Motors Self-driving Olli bus. Photo by Michael Petch3D printing is gaining wider use in the automotive sector. A new case study shows how Local Motors, an autonomous and open source vehicle manufacturer, is using 3D printing to save time and money.

The Phoenix, Arizona based company has a stated focus on low-volume manufacturing, and operates using micro-factories.

Producing vehicles on demand presents a number of unique challenges, including logistics issues such as handling inventory and supply chain management. Suitable solutions may not always be available off-the-shelf.

Local Motors and their “Olli” driverless shuttle project while no longer solely a prototype is not aiming for mass-production stage either. The case study produced by U.S. desktop 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, shows how 3D printing forms an essential part of Local Motors’ workflow – and specifically shows one of the key advantages of 3D printing.

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