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Our partnership with The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) is one to celebrate. We have an opportunity to collaborate on projects and also mentor students interested in 3D-printing and automotive manufacturing.

This summer, a previous IACMI intern changed lanes and became a Local Motors intern ready to escape into the world of 3D-printing, materials testing, and additive manufacturing.

Meet intern William Henken, native of Gainesville, Florida and future structural engineer. Let’s dive into his experience to see how he spent his time at our Knoxville microfactory.

LM Intern
LM Intern William Henken (left), and Sean Diehl, LM HR (right)

How did you learn about Local Motors and land an internship?

My first exposure to Local Motors was through IACMI. Previous experience with IACMI’s internship program allowed me to request additional experience at one of IACMI’s company partners, Local Motors.


What did your internship consist of?

The internship consisted of a ten-week appointment at Local Motors in Knoxville, TN. My fellow intern and I were able to characterize composite materials printed by Thermwood’s LSAM machine. By using an MTS frame, I was able to help record material properties which were critical to material selection of Olli. Various other projects were pursued as well.


What project(s) did you work on? Why did you choose this project?

Characterization of bolted single lap shear joints, and the determination of torsional rigidity in Olli lower chassis. Both of these projects are novel because never had LSAM printer materials been investigated. It felt groundbreaking to be conducting experiments designed to showcase the application and performance of these 3D printed materials.


How long did it take you to complete the project? End result of project?

The entire internship lasted 10 weeks. The end result of the project was a better understanding of 3D-printed Olli structures. Many parts are bolted together within Olli, and the single lap shear test helped characterize the strength of this joining method in 3D printed composites. It’s important to know how Olli will perform when driving over bumps or potholes, and that’s why the torsional rigidity of Olli’s lower chassis was quantified. By testing a full scale lower chassis LM now knows how far the chassis can bend and flex before failure. The results of both these projects were presented via poster at the IACMI Summer Members Meeting in Knoxville, TN.


How did you become interested in automotive technology and 3D-printing

My interest has always been in advanced materials. Different composites and their applications have always been of interest to me. Naturally the automotive industry is constantly seeking lighter and stronger materials to build with. Additionally, a hobby of mine is desktop 3D-printing because of the ability to creatively create. Local Motors is in a unique position to investigate applications of 3D-printed materials in the automotive and transportation industry.  


How did you become interested in autonomous vehicle technology?

I know very little about autonomous vehicle technology. The prospect of a vehicle driving itself is very intriguing. I’m very interested in the potential of autonomous vehicle technology.


Can you predict any advancements in autonomous vehicle technology?

My prediction for the successful implementation of autonomous vehicles is a redesign of roadways. I think a magnetic strip should be placed under asphalt to ensure vehicles remain in the lanes even when roads are covered in snow or debris. It’s my opinion that lidar alone cannot solve this problem. Also, autonomous vehicle technology is relatively unproven at this point. Before it’s widespread implementation, there must be a confidence in the technology’s performance.


Future career interest?

In the future I hope to work with 3D-printed composites. I would like to utilize experience gained here to become an expert in the field. I see myself working on applications of 3D-printed materials; whether it’s mold-making or autonomous vehicles, I’m excited about my future career in advanced materials.


Fun facts you’d like to share.

Despite being an Engineering type, I enjoy an active life. I swim for exercise and play sports like basketball and golf. I’m an avid sports fan and I regularly keep up with college and professional teams. My favorite sports to watch are football and basketball.

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