Harley Earl is widely considered to be the father of American automotive design.
Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1893, Earl's eye for design enraptured General Motors Chairman Alfred Sloan sufficiently that Sloan offered him a position directing the styling of the entire GM car line. Earl took the gig, moved to Detroit, and soon gained nearly unprecedented power over the development of GM's new product development process.
In a 31-year career with General Motors, Earl and GM's designers and stylists created a series of innovations which made them the clear leaders in automotive design.
It was Earl who coined the term "concept car" to describe a one-off, not-for-production vehicle built specifically to generate buzz at auto shows, and his stunning, often futuristic dream cars presaged styling innovations GM would incorporate into their production models. Earl's 1938 Buick masterpiece of hype and design, the "Y-Job," was the first of these "dream cars," and it was a sensation among enthusiasts.
Earl was also a pioneer when it came to taking two-dimensional drawings into the realm of three-dimensional reality. He used clay models of his creations to simplify and speed up the design process to free designers from the expense and timelines involved in creating forms in raw steel. Earl, obsessed with aircraft design motifs, took one look at the twin-boom tail of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter and incorporated the look into the 1948 Cadillac – the first production car to sport the now iconic "tail fins."
Now Local Motors, Inc. is giving you the chance to become the Harley Earl for a Digital Age with the announcement of the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge.
The winning design will "inform and influence the design of the vehicle" slated for manufacture at IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, Illinois, September 8-13, 2014.
The six-week challenge runs through May 13, 2014, and more than $10,000 in prize money will be awarded for winning challenge entries.
The winners will be announced on May 30, 2014.
"Historically, producing a new vehicle from a new design has represented a significant investment in tooling and a large commitment in time to integrate multiple structures and components," said Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO.
The challenge comes on the heels of Local Motors announcing partnerships with the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). The 3D Printed Car Design Challenge seeks to define innovations in the methodology associated with incorporating additive and subtractive manufacturing methods in vehicle design and development. The Local Motors challenge vehicle will be powered by a battery electric drive system.
"AMT is always on the lookout for the newest, innovative technology. The design of this Local Motors vehicle is no exception. I look forward to seeing how the team incorporates the latest advancements," said Paul Warndorf, Vice President – Manufacturing Technology, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
ORNL partner Cincinnati Inc. (and their innovative Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine) are also on board with the challenge. The BAAM machine is aimed at using large-scale 3D printing technology and is focused on packaging a complete digital manufacturing process.
"This vehicle may well be the coolest vehicle on the planet, at least to those of us in manufacturing technology," said Rick Neff, Manager Market Development for Cincinnati Incorporated. "I am excited to help judge the design competition for the 3D-Printed Vehicle that will influence how we manufacture many things. This will be the first application of a BAAM machine from Cincinnati Incorporated."
To enter the challenge, designers are required to submit three distinct views of their project (side, ¾ front and ¾ rear), one mise-en-scene view and a description of the benefits and innovations associated with the concept.
Local Motors 3D-Printed Car Design Challenge will be voted on by the Local Motors Community on localmotors.com, and judged by an independent panel of experts led by Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot and Local Motors Board Member, Rick Neff, Manager, Market Development, Cincinnati Incorporated, Douglas K. Woods, President of The Association For Manufacturing Technology, Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications for The Association For Manufacturing Technology and Paul Warndorf, the Vice President for Manufacturing Technology for AMT.
One challenge submission will be selected as the overall winner, and the winning designer will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize plus a trip to IMTS to participate in the printing of the first vehicle. Up to five "Innovation Awards" winners will receive cash prizes of $1,000 each for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D-printing process. One award for "Community Favorite," based on voting by the Local Motors Community, will also be awarded a $1,000 cash prize.