August 2015 11
Useless Serial Bus
Computer peripheral designers have created dozens of (arguably) clever
Flash drives that look like something else,
including sushi, guitars, cheeseburgers, and
human thumbs. Most of the gadgets run
the gamut from 256 MB to 16 GB, so they
are functional as well as weird. Now, you
can plug up an unused USB port with the
USB Squirming Tentacle, which has the
distinction of offering no storage at all. It
basically just sucks power from the port
and wiggles, although the folks at Think
Geek ( www.thinkgeek.com) caution that —
having been inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu deity — it "may summon the Elder Gods
from the depths." Maybe it offers $14.99 worth of amusement — especially at work, in
airports, or in other public places. On the other hand, you may get more laughs from the
USB humping dog, available from Oddity Mall ( odditymall.com) for only $10.50. ▲
INDUSTRY and the PROFESSION
■ Your choice: Wiggly
3D Printed Cars? For Real?
The advent of 3D printing has ushered in some intriguing concepts, but probably none so much as the one nvisioned by the folks at Local Motors ( localmotors.com). According to the company, "Gone are the days of mega-or even giga-factories that consume tremendous amounts of time and energy to fabricate products. A more sustainable,
nimble, and flexible factory is on the horizon. Called microfactories, these diminutive factories drastically change how
we produce large consumer goods for unique local needs." The most interesting part of it is that these microfactories
are intended to produce cars. Yes, human-size cars (and motorcycles, tricycles, and other vehicles) that actually can be
driven, and are predominantly manufactured using 3D printers.
Impossible? Apparently not. They have already built one called the Strati, and every part that can be integrated into
a single-material piece has been printed including the chassis/frame, exterior body, and many interior features.
Everything else (battery, motors, wiring, etc.) has been lifted from Renault's electric city car, the Twizy.
The Strati takes 44 hours to print, but Local Motors intends to reduce that to 24 hours eventually. The process is
referred to as big area additive manufacturing (BAAM),
which is really just 3D printing on a larger scale. The
Strati is pretty simple, sporting your choice of a 5 or 17
HP motor and an automatic single-speed transmission.
Top speed is about 50 mph ( 80 kph), with a 62 mile
(100 km) range from a 3. 5 hour charge.
Key to the microfactory concept is that Local Motors'
cars will not be produced in a large factory in Detroit or
Tennessee, but in many small factories scattered across
the world (hence, the "local" part). The company intends
to open 100 such facilities over the next 10 years.
If you have a desire to become an automotive
tycoon in your own area, give them a call. In the
meantime, feel free to interact with the website which is
designed to be a "free online and physical workspace
where creativity, collaboration, and design drive vehicle
innovations." Local Motors has a simple request: "Help us
bring badass vehicles to life." NV
CIRCUITS and DEVICES Continued
■ Local Motors' Strati, a drivable 3D printed car.