3D Printing in the Automotive industry
According to the study made by Harvard, the average American spends 101 min per day driving. The timing may vary in European countries, but it shows how automobiles have become the basic element of our everyday lives.
Let’s take a closer look at the designing and production process in the automotive.
With the development of additive manufacturing, the automotive industry made a huge step forward. 3D modeling and 3D printing brought a very noticeable advantage and started a new era of automotive - an opportunity to add customizable parts.
Nowadays aerospace and automotive value 3D printing very much also when it comes to designing parts that have lighter weight. Learn more about 3D printing in space here. Printing spare parts for repair might make the repair significantly faster and cheaper. The additional benefit of the additive process is that it allows more design freedom.
There are, however, certain complications with using additive manufacturing. In the automotive industry, a really large printer is needed to produce let's say a bumper as one print, so scaling is still a problem.
Designing is a vital part of a successful vehicle production because 3D modeling tools analyze separate components being able at the same time and see how they work as a complete system.
Automotive modeling is extremely challenging and giant car producers are actively using it in their designs. Volkswagen's design team works actively within CAD programs to accelerate the designing phase. Car 3D models give engineers quite a clear understanding of future vehicle's performance.
Rolls Royce works actively with 3D printing. The luxury British automotive company saves time on production while printing parts. It takes four to seven months to produce an entire car. Custom printed parts are lighter and take less time and material than traditional manufacturing.
To enhance the additive process efficiency now hire outsourcers to save on 3D modeling software costs and because it enhances productivity and enables both teams (outsource and inside) to concentrate on their primary goals, improves creativity.
Porsche's concern uses cost-effective potential when it comes to creating spare parts replacements. The short production run of many of Porsche’s Classic cars series makes it financially impractical for the company to store a large number of components, but reproducing spare parts after a production run is finished requires costly specific tooling. The company is currently combining SLM 3D printing for metal parts and SLS 3D printing for plastic parts and tooling, making a wider range of rare components available for collectors.
Designs often begin as scale models showing the general form of a vehicle. These models are also used for aerodynamic testing. The prints of those pre-designs can be made while using FDM/FFF printing technology. When it comes to high detail, SLA and material jetting are used. Accurate models allow clear communication of design intentions and showcasing the overall concept.
Additive manufacturing is almost irreplaceable at pre-production stages: prototyping and validating prototypes. Compared to traditional manufacturing methods, this helps to increase speed and decrease costs. As for actual production, the automotive industry operates really large volumes (more than $100 000), additive manufacturing is an element which allows producing custom parts.