National Harbor Opening 3-D Car Printing Factory

Jon Peterson, principal of the Peterson Companies, and Justin Fishkin, chief strategy officer of Local Motors, announce plans to make and sell 3-D printed cars at National Harbor. (PHOTO CREDIT: Arelis R. Hernández/The Washington Post)

Ever wish you could design your own car and make it with a 3-D printer?

The developers at National Harbor say they will soon offer you that chance.

Builders of the 350-acre waterfront complex in Prince George’s County on Monday announced plans to open a laboratory, micro-factory, showroom and sales room for Local Motors, a Phoenix-based company that makes and sells products created by 3-D printers.

The Prince George’s County Council would have to approve zoning changes to bring a factory to National Harbor, and the cars produced by Local Motors so far are not approved by the federal government to travel on main roads.

But county officials say they nevertheless are thrilled at the idea of hosting what would be the first Local Motors outpost to print, refine and assemble a fleet of cars via 3-D printer. The proposed location at National Harbor would also have a large retail component, officials said, where hundreds of other 3-D-printed items would be sold.

“It’s like an IKEA. People will come from all around to experience it,” said Justin Fishkin, chief strategy officer for Local Motors.

He said his company believes that the Washington region is full of engineers and innovators who would come to the National Harbor location to experiment.

Founded in 2007, Local Motors is trying to revolutionize the auto industry by crowdsourcing designs and then building and selling the cars locally.

The company, which has locations in Phoenix and Las Vegas, invites the public to propose designs for cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles, then provides the 3-D printers to build the vehicles out of carbon-infused plastic.

The vehicles sometimes are built using pre-packaged engines from established automakers such as General Motors.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Jonathan O’Connell and Arelis R. Hernández