In September, the first cars using 3D printers will be made. This means the entire body of the car will come out as a single piece printed with a 3D printer. It will not be a toy. It will be a real car, theoretically functioning (with an electric Renault engine). It will take place on 8 September, at the International Manufacturing Show of Chicago. An international competition was held to choose the project that will be used. There were over two hundred participants. And an Italian designer won. Completely unknown until a few days ago, his name is Michele Anoé, 49, born in Mestre but living in Turin since he began working. He was able to steamroll the international competition in his spare time, Anoé noted without a boastful tone: it is a fact, he tried and that’s it. There was this competition, announced by Local Motors, a company based in Phoenix, Arizona, that became famous a few years ago because it began making cars – at times a bit tacky – designed in crowdsourcing with the collaboration of thousands of people via Internet. One model, the Rally Fighter, has even become a market success. Then they turned to the trend of the moment: 3D printing. An agreement was reached with a research laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to custom build a 3D printer and then they launched the competition offering a few thousand dollars and, above all, the fact that the winning project would actually be realized. So, Michele Anoé’s “Strati” won, a duetto with a super aggressive line. It seems like a car from a comic strip.
Where is the innovation?
“The fact that there will be an attempt to do everything, or almost everything, in one single passage with the 3D printer. For this reason there are no doors, it is all reduced to the essentials. The process will be adding – 3D printer – and subtracting – with the milling of some parts realized with the same machine”.
How many hours will it take to print a car?
“We’ll see but, I think, a couple of days maximum”.
What material will be used to make it?
“Reinforced plastic with carbon fiber or fiberglass”.
A year ago, another 3D printed car was presented, Urbee, but it seemed like a toy compared to Strati.
“They printed in 3D what, today, is printed in sheet metal and plastic, with a new technology it is necessary to do different things. In fact, Urbee2 will be made like the cars of Local Motors”.
What sense does printing an entire car as a single piece have?
“From an industrial point of view it is folly, because if a piece breaks you have to change the entire machine. But we are at the frontier. If we put together the many things of these days – the driverless car by Google, Elon Musk releasing all of Tesla motor patents, and this story of Local Motors – we will see the car that does not yet exist. The future will arrive”.
How did you get started?
“I worked with my father, in Mestre: he had a dealership for agricultural machines. I would assemble and disassemble bicycles in the shop when I was small. We would put carts behind them and have races. I was eleven years old”.
What studies did you complete?
“I began and abandoned all schools: professional mechanic, accounting. Then in 1990 I won a competition to design the “European automobile”, and I got enrolled in a design school in Turin, the IAAD. The prestige of this school is that it has many teachers from the world of Fiat. In fact, after a few months, I was hired at Fiat’s Aprilia where I worked for four years”.
Now what do you do?
“I collaborate with a company from Turin, InovoDesign: we work a lot with Fiat and we have trained dozens of young people. But seeing the conditions in which young Italian designers work is discouraging”.
But aren’t we the capital of design?
“We were, precisely. In Germany a designer is paid double, here they earn as much as a machinist and there are no contractual guarantees. And then Bertone is dying, Italdesign by Giugiaro is German, Fiat has ended many collaborations. It is a shame to see this decline. The strength of Turin was that it had thousands of body shops, thousands of small artisans, which are vanishing. Just like Detroit. I see many round tables talking about this, but the world of Italian design has been destroyed, it is hard to restart from ashes”.
Could your victory be a sign of a change in this trend?
“No, no. It is necessary to find that killer app that would allow us to exploit the energy and the talent of the world of innovators that the president of the U.S., Obama, recently celebrated by hosting a Maker Faire at the White House. I don’t know why we can’t do this in Italy. There would even be a lot of talent here”.
posted originally on La Repubblica