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LM Industries works with U.S. Marines, others to become Amazon of manufacturing

By Stephen Edelstein

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Local Motors micro factory Chandler, Arizona

Local Motors has done some pretty cool things over the past few years. It launched the crowdsourced Rally Fighter in 2009, 3D printed an electric car called the Strati, and created a small autonomous shuttle vehicle named Olli. Now, the founders of Local Motors are offering their experience with high-tech manufacturing methods to other companies through a new entity called LM Industries.

“Mass manufacturing is a relic of a past era. 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,” LM Industries CEO and co-founder John B. Rogers Jr. said in a statement. “We can’t keep producing products the same way we’re 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 quick-changing consumer needs.”

LM Industries describes itself as “the world’s first digital OEM (original equipment manufacturer).” It plans to use technologies like 3D printing to bring new products to market faster, boasting that it can take one from concept to reality in under one year. LM Industries will serve as the new parent company of Local Motors and its sibling company, Launch Forth. LMI will combine Launch Forth’s design apparatus with Local Motors’ network of small-scale “microfactories” — Goldilocks-sized factories located close to the intended market for efficiency’s sake.

What exactly will LMI make at those factories? A company press release said the company is already working with the United States Marine Corps on a “modular logistics vehicle” and “unmanned cargo system,” although details on both projects are vague. LMI said the logistics vehicle is designed to be customizable for any jobs Marines might need it to perform, and that the unmanned cargo system will be designed to deliver supplies over land, air, and sea, as well as underwater and possibly even underground.

LMI is also working with insurance company Allianz on a wheelchair that is fully customizable. The partners also hope to remove some of the stigma of traditional wheelchairs with a more stylish design. Allianz is also working with Local Motors on the deployment of Olli autonomous shuttles in multiple cities. LMI lists Airbus as a third current partner, but has not disclosed what it is working on with the aircraft manufacturer. But the company doesn’t plan to stop there.

“If Amazon created a new ecosystem to monetize the long tail of ordering things, LM Industries has created an ecosystem to monetize the long tail of making things,” said LMI CEO Rogers. “Ecosystem shifts like this come once in a century.”

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