3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been gaining immense popularity in a variety of different fields ranging from health care to aeronautics. However, automotive industry is probably one such industry that is benefiting the most out of 3D printing.
3D printing in automotive industry is enabling car manufacturers to prototype various car components and maintain a collection of different spare and modified auto parts.
Following are some different ways in which 3D printing is transforming the automotive industry.
Printing Out an Entire Car Model
This is probably the most important use of 3D printing in the automobile industry. Thanks to the 3D printing technology, it is now possible for automobile manufacturers to easily print out an entire vehicle through this technique. Although, some intricate parts of a car such as the engine and tires cannot be printed through 3D printing.
As of now, there is a limited amount of use of 3D printing in the automobile industry as only certain materials can be printed through this technology. However, several car manufacturing companies have tried to print out an entire car through 3D printing.
Earlier in 2014, a US based automobile manufacturing company, Local Motors designed an entire electric car from 3D technology. The company named the electric car, “Strati”. The car was printed in a short period of time by using a BAAM 3D printer.
However, not many automobile manufacturers are planning to design a whole car through 3D printing like Local Motors as a lot of research and investment is required to design a complete car model from 3D printing.
Prototypes of Various Automobile Parts
Different printing companies are manufacturing 3D printers that are used by automobile manufacturers for creating various automobile parts. However, this technology is also used by some automobile manufacturers for prototyping various automobile parts as well.
One of the major benefits of using 3D printing for prototyping automobile parts is the fact that it saves time and operating costs. Also, through this method, it is possible to save raw material and create complex designs more quickly and efficiently.
This technology helps automobile manufacturing companies to prototype and print several automobile parts without spending much time or money. At the beginning of the 90s, many major automobile brands started to use 3D printing for prototyping various components of automobiles in the early stages of design and development of cars.
Replication of Various Automobile Parts
The most interesting part of 3D printing is that it allows users to replicate replacement parts for various machineries and systems.
With the help of this technology, factories don’t require to maintain a large stock of such spare parts. Whenever, a company requires a spare part, it can easily create that spare part on the spot through 3D printing.
Many large automobile companies are using 3D printing technology to create various replacement parts for their older car models. By printing replacement parts through 3D printing, automobile companies can get the exact spare part that they require. This method is less expensive and offers consistency in the production of spare automobile parts.
Decrease in Effect on Environment
Many prominent companies are making their mark in the world of 3D printed automobiles. However, some companies do not aim to produce complete cars in 3D printed forms.
Some 3D printing companies aim to bring reforms in the production systems of vehicles. By bringing certain reforms, factories can produce vehicles in more cost effective ways.
Through such changes, the process of car manufacturing can be eco-friendly and be completed with reduced expenditures.
Factories can print structures of metal parts of vehicles on small-scale production set-ups instead of having large scale production systems that would manufacture entire cars.
Role of 3D Printing in the Manufacturing of Sports Car
Although 3D printing is usually associated with the designing and managing of conventional automobiles, however, this technology is becoming more and more popular in the manufacturing of sports cars as well. McLaren uses this printing technology to develop various prototype parts to test their durability.
It is believed that McLaren also uses 3D printing during actual races to replicate various auto parts on the spot.