3D-Designed Cars: The New Automotive Today
Automakers and suppliers are increasingly turning to 3D printing for their product development needs. Today, as 3D printing cost decrease and capabilities increase and improve, the printing technology is finding its way into every automaker’s R&D budget, an essential component of their product development. 3D printing or rapid prototyping enables shortened product development cycles, reduces mechanical failures, brings down cost of prototyping, lowers material consumption and wastage, and always seeks ways of improving fuel efficiency.
How does the technology help the industry?
In the concept stage, 3D printing enables automakers and suppliers to try out multiple designs at once; it provides agility to make design changes on-the-fly and shortens turnaround time. In production, assemblies can be combined into a single printed part which can reduce assembly time and produce a higher-quality part. 3D printing is not for printing the entire vehicle, but for tooling and end-use parts.
The technology also allows for customization for clients with specific preferences or for replacement parts for hard-to-find components of vintage cars. It is also useful for remanufacturing, intended for older automobiles, like some 20 year old vehicles.
While additive manufacturing can build brake inlets, dashboards, ducting and gearbox side covers, air vents and speaker grilles, side-view mirror shells, and up to car engines themselves, 3D printing for mass-production parts is still a challenge, remaining valuable only to low-volume production. Examples of this are the high-end vehicles and military vehicles. Mass-producing parts can be cost-prohibitive as a single car model can have as many as two hundred thousand parts. Nonetheless, the future for 3D printing still holds a lot of promise for the auto industry.
Value and Speed for 3D Printing in Seattle
3D printing has transformed the way automobiles are designed, developed, and manufactured. Here at 3D Composites, your Seattle 3D printing company, we drive the fast lane helping auto designers achieve their goals, from concept to fruition.