How 3D Printing Is Impacting The Automotive IndustryLouis Monte
Additive manufacturing today plays a crucial role in production across numerous industries. From aerospace, to architecture, to consumer electronics, 3D printing is impacting the way entire industries look at manufacturing products. This is serving to not only revolutionize methods of production, but also the quality and performance of the products they produce.
One industry that is experiencing this more than any is the automotive industry. An industry that throughout time has been considered the measuring stick of how far society has advanced technologically now looks set to make its biggest breakthrough yet. To illustrate this, here are four ways that 3D printing is impacting the automotive industry.
Let’s first look at Automotive pioneers and Formula One giants McLaren who have recently agreed a four-year partnership with Stratasys, an organisation also at the forefront of 3D printing, to implement 3D printing solutions to their manufacturing process. McLaren will be exploring the Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and PolyJet technology that 3D printing can offer. Using a manufacturing process based on Fused Deposition Modelling means that McLaren can cut costs without having to compromise the performance of their vehicles. This would be different if McLaren were, for instance, to implement a process such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) which can be costly and produce mixed results.
In addition to this, one of the major benefits of pursuing 3D printing is that McLaren will now be able to decrease the time spent on production, as well as improving the quality and performance of their vehicles.
Making Things Practical
McLaren are not the only manufacturers to reap the benefits of 3D printing. Koenigsegg Automotive AB, producers of some of the most technically superior supercars to exist, use 3D printed plastic models throughout the development process, simply out of practicality. To produce the tooling and casing with traditional materials would be astronomically expensive, and would inevitably set the operation back both in terms of timescale and eventual product performance.
Honda Access are now also able to finally apply the finishing touches to their vehicles by using 3D printing. This allows them to create additional features built to specifications for individual customers, without conceding business to the aftermarket.
Changing the Supply Chain
Another major development in the automotive industry, accredit to Audi, is the avoidance of over-production of parts by simply implementing a system of printing in 3D as and when they are needed. Now, manufacturers can eliminate wasted money on overstock and maintain their budgets with more discipline while in the knowledge that every penny is put to use.
An added bonus that comes from adopting additive manufacturing is how it has broadened the perspective of automotive production all across the industry. Due to the emergence of technology such as 3D printing, the formula for producing automobiles is now being entirely rewritten. An example of this is the Vshaper Pro, which provides alternatives to elements made of metal which are traditionally used. Thanks to printers such as this, manufacturers can now have full control over the process of cooling and the welding of subsequent paths.