In the last decade, 3D printing has started to make it mainstream! Used to create three-dimensional objects from digital instructions from a computer, this modern technology has sped up the manufacturing processes of many different industries.
What are the benefits of 3D printing specifically when it comes to the automotive space? Just how far away are we from fully 3D printed cars? In the following post, Automotive Training Center (ATC) took a look at this promising manufacturing platform and how it might change the cars of tomorrow.
Rapid Product Development
Each and every year, car manufacturers design and present concept cars at auto shows to give the public a sneak peek into what new ideas they can expect to see translated into forthcoming models. 3D printing a car prototype is a great fit for automakers since it can build parts quickly with a fast turnaround time.
Less Waste During Manufacturing
One of the reasons why the 3D printing process is so desirable across a variety of applications is you lose less material during a build. Otherwise known as an additive manufacturing process, 3D printing only uses the amount of material required to complete the instructions set. Traditional subtractive manufacturing processes cut away from a material to produce an object, amounting to more waste.
Lighter Vehicle Weight
In addition to wasting less materials in production, 3D printing cars enables manufacturers to produce vehicles that have lighter curb weights. A lot of new, lighter materials (like the all-aluminum F-150) and alternative fuel sources (electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and many more) have been adopted by manufacturers in an effort to make vehicles that are better for the environment. 3D printing as a manufacturing process certainly has a place in this mix!
Custom Parts and Made-to-Order Models
Another neat attribute of 3D printing is the ability to make, well, anything! Using a 3D printing manufacturing process, customers can order their car in advance exactly how they want it, have those requests reflected in the build instructions, and have it become a reality.
3D printing also has a place not only in new car bodies, parts, and accessories, but making a new part for an old car’s restoration, in which its original parts aren’t being made anymore.
The Future of 3D Printed Cars
3D printers can print everything from measuring cups to flower pots at the push of a button. What about something as large as a car? Quite a few specialty engineering and design collaborators have already stepped up to the plate, producing vehicles that were fully or partially made using 3D printing.
For example, Local Motors 3D printed the entire body of their vehicle, the Strati, in just 44 hours. As this technology advances, we can expect to see the time it takes to 3D print a car continue to come down, a promising outlook for 3D printing in automotive!
Interested in learning more about the future of the industry and new tech-savvy technologies that car manufacturers are adopting now? Check this post on 3 advanced innovations that are changing the industry