3-D printed cars to be available next year

Initial versions of all-electric car to cost $18,000 to $30,000

3-D printed car.
3-D printed car.

PHOENIX, Ariz. – It may seem like science fiction, but starting next month, you can pre-order the world's first 3-D printed car.

Local Motors plans to have the first 3-D printed cars on the road by the beginning of next year, with a high-speed version available by the end of 2016.

The initial versions of the all-electric car will cost $18,000 to $30,000, with the company taking pre-orders on indiegogo.com in late Oct.

The high-speed model will cost about $50,000.

Unlike traditional auto manufacturing, 3-D printing allows Local Motors to quickly customize and redesign vehicles.

"We want the development time, which is currently about six years, to come down to about four months," Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers said. "Digitally manufacturing a car allows us to adopt new technology as soon as it comes out. That's what people desire."

In August, Local Motors announced partnerships with three research universities, including Arizona State University. 3-D printing involves layering plastics using a computer-controlled device similar to a hot glue gun. Students and professors at ASU will study the interfaces between those layers, Rogers said.

The company also formed partnerships with the University of Michigan and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.