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Publish Date - January 01, 2021

Author: Louisa

Categories:   Useful Automotive Information   

The Rise of 3D Printing in the Automotive Industry

3D printing is a technology that is slowly being utilized across all areas of car manufacturing. In fact, it has changed the way many car companies operate, in terms of automotive production, employee productivity, and customer satisfaction. The range of applications for this technology is continuously expanding, bringing with it numerous advantages.

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3D printing is a technology that is slowly being utilized across all areas of car manufacturing. In fact, it has changed the way many car companies operate, in terms of automotive production, employee productivity, and customer satisfaction. The range of applications for this technology is continuously expanding, bringing with it numerous advantages.

Rapid Prototyping

3D printing is a technology that has been adapted into the product development cycle in various industries including the automotive industry. Rapid prototyping allows carmakers to quickly produce prototypes of their designs in order to check form and fit. This not only allows them to easily see flaws in the design, but it also saves them a lot of time and money. Prototypes, especially large ones like cars, can be expensive. Not to mention, they tend to take a lot of time to produce using traditional manufacturing.

With 3D printing, carmakers can significantly reduce time and money spent making a prototype. This not only shortens their design cycle but also allows them to perform multiple iterations as the prototype undergoes validation and testing.

One of the best examples of this is Ford's Mustang Shelby GT500. The engineering team at Ford Motor Company was able to print various prototypes for testing in order to validate their designs. Some of the iterations were even tested simultaneously. Because of rapid prototyping, the company was able to create the most aerodynamically advanced Mustang - the 2020 Shelby GT500.

Design Flexibility

They say that it's not what you can make with 3D printing, it's what you can't make that's important. This is because, at present, there seems to be no limit to what you can make with this technology.

Designers can use it to create complex parts that cannot be produced using traditional manufacturing. Moreover, carmakers can create various designs of a single part or product, test them all simultaneously, and refine the designs in a shorter span of time. The flexibility in design as well as in making changes in the design helps ensure that the manufacturer is able to meet current market needs quickly and stay ahead of competitors.

One company taking this advantage to heart is GM. The company produces various test models of more than 20,000 functional components.

Customization

3D printing has enabled carmakers to easily manufacture customize cars, parts, and tools to cater to specific needs. Generally, manufacturing anything that is customized using traditional methods is costly and takes time. For example, you will usually need specialized injection molds for each customized part or product you want to build. Which means money and time. With custom 3D printing, you can easily edit the design file to make it fit the needs of a specific customer.

Many carmakers are utilizing 3D printing to meet the various needs of their employees and customers. For example, some companies are printing personalized, ergonomic tools for their workers to help boost productivity. 3D printing can be used to create lightweight components because it allows you to choose the materials used to build them. This technology is also used to produce specially-designed seats for race car drivers.

Moreover, it enables carmakers to create customized parts according to a customer's preference. In fact, Daihatsu has been offering this type of service for their Copen Car Model since 2016. Customers can choose from over 15 base patterns in 10 different colors for their 3D-printed panels to be used for their front and rear bumpers. BMW's brand MINI in Europe is using 3D printing to enable its customers to personalize certain car parts such as LED door sills and the dash.

Reduced Costs

Traditional manufacturing is costly for so many reasons. Creating a prototype, for example, can take weeks to months. A completed product typically takes a year before it can be released to the market. Both of these instances cost money. Money that you need to pay for the design and development of the product. And money that you could have been earning if you had released the product earlier, especially if a competitor was able to release their product first. 3D printing saves you money because it allows for a shorter design cycle and an earlier release date.

3D printing allows you to save money by manufacturing certain parts, components, and tools in-house. Not only is the process cheaper, but you also don't incur delivery fees, delays, and inventory costs. The Volkswagen Autoeuropa factory in Portugal, for example, was able to reduce their tooling costs by 90% by adopting 3D printing. Porsche Classic uses 3D printing to produce parts on demand which helped them save on tooling and storage costs. Mercedes-Benz Trucks is also using 3D printing to manufacture spare parts that are rarely in demand which helps them cut costs, optimize inventory, and streamline their supply chain.

The reduced costs don’t stop there. Because carmakers will be able to save money on certain expenses, it’s quite possible that they will be able to pass on some of that savings to their customers. Not only might consumers be able to buy cars for less, they won’t have to take out huge auto loans to buy the car that they want.

Conclusion

The rise of 3D printing in the automotive industry is inevitable. It has already made a significant impact on various areas of car manufacturing. But that's merely scratching the surface. This technology has limitless potential. It can help a company rise above its competitors. And because of that, it will help drive innovation and expand its applications far beyond what we have today.

Flying cars might be science fiction now. But who knows what's possible in the future? Maybe 3D printing will be the key to making that into a reality.