3D printing in Automotive Industry – Its usages, benefits and impacts

3D printing in Automotive Industry – Its usages, benefits and impacts

For the automotive industry, the recent advancements in 3D printing has paved way for much more robust designs that are more durable, stronger, lighter, and cost-efficient. In the year 2015, it was reported that 3D printing in automotive industry accounted for more than 16.1% of the expenditure made in the industry. Thus, it is very clear that the big sharks of the industry are pretty much eager to invest in this technology. The equipment manufacturers use 3D printing in automotive industry for rapid prototyping. Apart from that, the technical trajectory also presents a very strong case regarding its usage in product innovation and direct manufacturing in the near future. In this article, we are going to present the applications of 3D printing in automotive industry, the benefits and impacts as well.

3D printing in automotive industry

In the automotive industry, designing communicative tools in vehicles and other gadgets is extremely important. The designs in the automotive industries often start with as scale models showcasing the vehicle form. These are used for aerodynamic testing. SLA and material jetting technology are used for producing high detailed and smooth scale models of a wide range of automotive designs. The accurate models allow the design intention to be very clearly communicated.

Prototyping is extremely important in the automotive industry. Starting from a full-size wing mirror to print rapidly in a cost-efficient manner with a low cost FDM to a high detailed, fully colored dashboard, 3D printing in automotive industry is perfectly suitable for all sorts of prototyping requirements. There are some of the 3D printing engineering materials that allow in full-testing and validation of prototype performance.

One of the primary areas where 3D printing in automotive industry is most disruptive is the cost-efficient tooling required for injection molding, thermoforming, jig and fixtures. Within the automotive industry, this allows for the tools to be quickly manufactured within a low cost and then to be used for producing low to medium run of parts. This validation mitigates a risk when there is high investment required during the production stage.

Coming to the production stage of an automotive industry, it can be said that there the production volumes are mostly high. It is more than 1, 00,000 parts per year. And this is why the 3D printing in automotive industry has helped in providing with prototyping solution instead of just helping in the end-part manufacturing. There have been improvements in the size of industrial printers, the speed that they are able to print and the materials that are available has advanced a lot, which means 3D printing is now a viable option for a lot of medium sized businesses. This is especially true for the high-end automobile manufacturers which limit their production numbers to less than average.

Finally, coming to the customization sector, 3D printing had a significant impact on the competitive automotive industry where the cost of complicated one-off components is justified by a substantial improvement in the performance of the vehicle. The specific parts can be tailored for a specific vehicle or a driver. With the help of 3D printing in automotive industry, it has become possible to consolidate and optimize the topography for innumerable custom components.