3D Printed Parts Help Auto Manufacturers Work Smarter
3D printing has recently gained popularity as a tool for hobbyists, allowing them to create anything they can design in a modeling program. However, even in the 1980s when the first embodiment of the technology emerged, it was designed for manufacturing. The technology has finally reached a point where widespread implementation becomes possible. Here’s how automakers are profiting from 3D printing.
Prototyping a new car or improving existing models has always been a tedious process. Once the design is on paper, it’s up to engineers and artists to make it a reality. It can be a quick process for small models, but the prototyping process can take up to three months for large or more detailed ones. 3D printing auto parts can reduce the time it takes to prototype something new to a few days.
These prototypes are no longer limited to plastic models. Modern printers can make designs out of plastic, resin, metal, glass, or even complex materials like graphene, carbon fiber, and kevlar. Anything an automotive engineer or designer can come up with in a 3D modeling or computer-aided design (CAD) program can be turned into reality in less than a week.
Automobile manufacturing has become the pinnacle of efficiency since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913. The assembly of a car, which took up to 12 hours, has been reduced to just two hours and 30 minutes. 3D printing may not reduce this, but it has the potential to improve overall production efficiency, reduce downturns, and move the industry forward.
This move towards faster production will become essential over the coming decades, as automakers move away from internal combustion engines (ICE) and focus on electric vehicles. According to industry experts, ICE cars will continue to grow until 2030 before finally starting to slow down. When they do, millions will be replaced by fully electric or hybrid models.
Advanced materials like carbon fiber and Kevlar are starting to become more common in automotive manufacturing. For example, Ford is investing in machines from a company called Impossible Objects, which specializes in advanced materials in its 3D printers. It is also investing in Desktop Metal, which produces printers capable of creating with metal, as well as large printers that could be used to build larger pieces of an automobile. Even some of the electronic components used to operate these cars could be 3D printed in the future.
3D printing in materials other than plastic is also starting to emerge in other industries. You can find massive concrete printers that can build an entire house in a matter of days in the construction industry or delicate bio-printers in medicine that allow doctors to print tissues or even organs made from the clean ones. patient cells. The potential applications of these technologies are limitless.
One of the most interesting things about 3D printing from a consumer perspective is the fact that it gives everyone the opportunity and the opportunity to create something of their own. The same opportunity will likely exist in the future for automotive personalization and personalization. While consumers will continue to rely on a basic template and frame, the options can turn that everyday driver into something no one has seen before.
BMW recently launched a new additive manufacturing campus in Munich, and Mini – one of its brands – already offers custom 3D printed panels and accessories for owners to choose from.
Eventually, within reason, consumers might even be able to design their own custom vehicles from scratch. There will be certain regulations that will need to be followed to ensure that they are legal and safe to drive, but beyond that these projects can only be limited by the creator’s budget.
The average car can weigh from 2,900 to 3,500 pounds or more, depending on the make and model. The heavier the vehicle, the poorer its fuel consumption. Fuel efficiency is emerging as one of the most important characteristics of new cars along with the global push for sustainability – at least until the industry shifts from internal combustion engines to fully electric vehicles.
Opting for 3D printed parts, especially those made from plastic or other lightweight materials, can reduce the overall mass of the vehicle and improve fuel economy all at once. Plastic may not be the best choice for some components, but with 3D printers emerging every year that can work with everything from steel to carbon fiber, there’s bound to be something for everyone. tastes.
Automotive 3D printing is not only useful for creating new vehicles. It also becomes a valuable tool to operate classic and vintage cars. This is especially true for models that have been out of production for decades and require specific parts that are no longer manufactured. Porsche Classic, the luxury automaker’s division dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of older vehicles, has started using 3D printing to produce rare parts for its vintage cars.
This is invaluable to classic Porsche owners who might receive something that hasn’t come off an assembly line since before they were born and which is one of the most unique uses for 3D printing. This isn’t the kind of impression the average hobbyist can make, with Porsche carefully guarding their 3D models. However, it’s much more efficient – not to mention safer and easier – than scouring a junkyard for the parts you need.
There are a lot of changes on the horizon for the auto industry, with the push to move away from internal combustion engines in full swing. 3D printing is starting to take its place in this industry and will likely shape the way we assemble cars for the foreseeable future. It is a way for manufacturers to create and offer efficient, unique and economical vehicles.