Local Motors, the U.S. company behind the 3D printed Strati car and the autonomous Olli shuttle, has been a pioneering force in the intersecting additive and automotive industries. It seems that the company has even higher ambitions than bringing its own innovative vehicles to roads, however, as it just announced the formation of LM Industries Group, Inc., a technology-enabled manufacturer that will work with other companies to develop and deploy mobility products.
Headquartered in San Francisco, LM Industries is being heralded as “the world’s first digital OEM” and promises to help its clients go from concept to final products in less than one year using its unique digital solution. This solution leverages additive manufacturing technologies and flexible microfactory configurations to quickly iterate prototypes and ultimately finished products.
So far, the newly formed company has already reported it will be working alongside customers such as Allianz Group, Airbus and the U.S. Marine Corps to develop transportation, accessibility and mobility products. Using its efficient digital manufacturing workflow, the new group says it will be able to create high-quality, low-volume products at “unprecedented speeds.” Moreover, thanks to the flexibility afforded by additive manufacturing and microfactories, LM Solutions says its products can be easily upgraded to keep up with changing consumer preferences and needs.
“Mass manufacturing is a relic of a past era,” says John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of LM Industries. “We’re in the middle of a mobility revolt where current modes of transportation are not sustainable and do not match up with rapidly changing consumer preferences. We can’t keep producing products the same way we’ve been accustomed to. The world is moving too fast for traditional manufacturing to keep up. LM Industries is on a mission to transform mass manufacturing to micro-manufacturing in order to match the new pace of technology and quickly changing consumer needs.”
Jean-Marc Pailhol, head of Global Market Management and Distribution at Allianz SE has been appointed to the board of LM Industries and will help to establish strategic global partnerships and promote innovative product development. Allianz has working relationships with both Local Motors and its sister company Launch Forth and is collaborating on deploying the autonomous Olli shuttle as well as designing future mobility solutions and insurance solutions alongside Launch Forth.
“Because they will be pushed by pollution and traffic constraints, the large cities will be the first to accept and implement the disruptive mobility products such as autonomous or flying vehicles for public transportation,” said Pailhol. “LM Industries checks all the boxes with its product features: 100% electric, 100% autonomous, 100% connected and 90% 3D printed with the ability to produce in micro factories near bigger cities.”
“In the future, a large part of the mobility market will be taken by small factories making solutions near the cities in which they are needed. LM Industries has a real competitive advantage in that they are a step ahead of the other AV manufacturers and have a real value proposition with their microfactories,” he added. “When I met Jay Rogers nearly two years ago, I quickly recognized the relevance of his value proposition from co-creation to micro-manufacturing to mobility solutions like Olli.”
Presently, Allianz and LM Industries are working on developing an accessibility device that can reportedly be customized to “match any activity level or style choices.” The product aims to reinvent the classic wheelchair design and overcome a number of challenges faced by its design. The innovative device is being developed with inclusivity, accessibility, functionality and fun in mind.
LM Industries’ partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps, for its part, will be focused on the development of a modular logistics vehicle and an unmanned cargo system. The U.S. military has embraced the efficiency and flexibility of additive manufacturing for a range of applications, so it is no surprise that military vehicles are another avenue of exploration. This particular collaboration could be highly significant for the military sector.
“LM Industries has proven to be an agile, adaptive, and innovative partner in maturing our hybrid logistics vision,” elaborated Lieutenant General Michael G. Dana, Deputy Commandant for Installation and Logistics. “Through the Launch Forth initiative, we are developing critically needed logistical capabilities for 21st century expeditionary operations. By leveraging the power of co-creation, we will rapidly develop time sensitive, demand-driven capabilities for our Marines.”
“As we have proven with Olli and other products, we can change designs based on consumer preferences in a day and custom-develop a fleet of large machines in a matter of weeks,” added Rogers. “Our vision goes far beyond ground mobility; our manufacturing process can be applied to virtually any hardware product, from aviation to infrastructure, housing and other large industrial products.”
“If Amazon created a new eco-system to monetize the long-tail of ordering things, LM Industries has created an ecosystem to monetize the long-tail of making things. Ecosystem shifts like this come once in a century,” he concluded.