Everyone at Local Motors cares about passenger safety, but Robert Bedsole takes that concern down to the molecular level — quite literally.
Robert has spent an inordinate amount of time studying the scientific properties of the various 3D-printed materials that go into our vehicles. As an advanced materials engineer, he regularly pushes the limits of manufacturing technology to identify optimal materials that can be printed for automotive applications.
He works each day to make our vehicles safer and more sustainable by using the best of what advanced manufacturing technology has to offer. There’s a lot more to the success of our vehicles than simply how they look — Robert contributes significantly to our wealth of research and development of them. We’re excited to see what’s next for the materials we use in automotive applications.
If you have questions for Robert, drop us a note in the comments, and we’ll answer them. For now, let’s get to know him a little better.
Where were you born and raised? Birmingham, Alabama
What’s your favorite food? Mexican
What’s your dream vacation? I enjoy hiking in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
What do you do for Local Motors?
As an advanced materials engineer, my colleagues and I focus on finding better materials to print on the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D-printer. We are also exploring better ways to print on a large-scale, which includes improving the BAAM system that we have as well as keeping abreast of the latest 3D-printing technology. We work closely with our designers and investigate new manufacturing methods to supplement large-scale printed materials.
What did you do before Local Motors?
I recently earned my Ph.D. from Auburn University. While there, I studied high-speed fracture of carbon fiber composites. I also studied the mechanical effects of carbon nanotubes dispersed in thermoset polymers.
What projects are you working on now?
I primarily drive the printing of new materials on the BAAM in our Knoxville Microfactory. Once new materials are determined to be printable and dimensionally stable, samples are machined into test specimens and mechanically characterized on our test stand. Our most exciting finding so far has been a nylon with approximately 400 percent better mechanical properties than traditional ABS plastic in both the printing and stacking directions.
What do you love about Local Motors?
I love our team’s freedom to explore many different materials solutions as we develop new vehicles using Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) technology. We have incredible resources to perform groundbreaking research and development that will have an enormous impact on the future of the automotive industry.
What advice do you have for future employees?
We’re a fast-paced company, so don’t be afraid to be decisive and make things happen to help the company. In many respects, we all share a sense of ownership in every innovation we produce, so I recommend that you be willing to take the initiative no matter if it was asked of you. We’re also a highly fluid company — as soon as we find a better way to enhance technology, we can turn on a dime and make it happen. Feel encouraged to seek new solutions and question our current direction.