3D Printed Cars and the future of Manufacturing with Jay Rogers

If you’ve read our previous profile on Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers, you already know that the company is reinventing the focus and pace of the automotive industry  through crowd-sourced, collaborative vehicle design, produced by micro-factories throughout the United States. While disruption is a topic that’s at top of mind for a lot of entrepreneurs, Rogers’ goal for Local Motors is even more ambitious, going  far beyond the idea of disruption for its own sake. Tech.co senior writer Will Schmidt sat down with Jay Rogers for an illuminating  fireside chat at Celebrate 2015 this morning.

Rogers sees the co-creation and micro-manufacturing process as “an evolution from crowdsourcing,” referencing the community-sourced t-shirt design process of Threadless. “It’s about rapid product development with a community. You get better ideas faster, you get products to market faster, getting ideas you might not have otherwise had.”

Changing the pace of product development and manufacturing has the potential to bring  better, safer vehicles and parts to market in record time. Rogers showed the group a picture of Local Motors’ Swim, which is the first “highway-ready” 3D printed car, and talked about the manufacturing process of Local Motors Strati, which was printed in a mind-blowing 44 hours. 3D printing (additive manufacturing) is  one of many tools that liberate designers from the restrictions of automotive design When the limitations of the traditional manufacturing process is lifted for designers, the possibilities are expanded, says Rogers.  “We want to build vehicles that do things you’ve never dreamed of.”

Rogers interested in additive manufacturing and micro-factories has been in part motivated by “changing the way we use oil in the world,” and looking at alternative approaches to energy and manufacturing.  Rogers says that Local Motors’ manufacturing process creates cars that use 30% fewer gigajoules of energy than traditional manufacturers. What’s more, micro-factories can be built quickly and at a low-cost in local communities, creating new jobs rapidly. “Making factories that are co-created can change the world.” Local Motors has taken this approach beyond auto manufacturing  to the home appliance industry with its unique partnership with GE called FirstBuild.

Even with the disruptive changes Local Motors brings to manufacturing, Rogers says that it’s not the company’s  intention to disrupt the manufacturing industry. “Our goal is to bring technology to vehicles fast. Customers don’t buy a product because it’s disruptive [ …] it’s inexcusable for the automotive industry not to be able to adopt technology so quickly.”

A marine for eight years,  Rogers believes that tech advances might aid military veterans as they re-integrate into the workforce. “Let’s figure out a way to get advance manufacturing training to the military as quickly as possible, making their job in society relevant to economic needs now. Our soldiers need to be involved.”

On October 4-6, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.

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Written by:
Keidra Chaney is a writer that focuses on technology, music, and culture and was previously a managing editor of Tech.Co.
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