Industy News| Additive Manufacturing Is Driving The Future Of The Automotive Industry

Date: 2018-12-11
Views: 187

Additive manufacturing aligns with the needs of the automotive industry, driving advances in vehicle design. Serial production is a reality today in additive manufacturing (or 3-D printing) as the technologies under this umbrella have advanced to a point where end-use parts can be made of both metal and plastic materials, ready to be put to use in real-world environments. The automotive industry has been a major adopter, with automotive OEMs among the first to install 3-D printers -- some 30 years ago, in fact, Ford purchased the third 3-D printer ever made.

A 2014 Deloitte study pointed to two major areas of influence for 3-D printing in automotive applications: as a source of product innovation and as a driver of supply chain transformation. Over the past nearly half-decade, these predictions have shown to be spot-on as new vehicle models come out faster and sleeker, with digital supply chains reshaping logistics.

Some of the best-known benefits of additive manufacturing align precisely with what automotive OEMs are looking to deliver: faster development cycles, part consolidation, lightweighting, new and custom geometries.

When new models come out annually, any time shaved off the development cycle is a leg up on the competition. Today, 3-D printing is speeding design and prototyping processes, creating unique tools for each production line, and making an increasing number of end-use parts for standard and customized vehicles, as well as on-demand spare parts manufacture.

3-D printing in automotive manufacture is on the rise, with big names putting the technology to use for decades and new applications developing in serial production.

Industy News| Additive Manufacturing Is Driving The Future Of The Automotive Industry

Eric Kouba and Rob Salenbien, additive manufacturing team members, inspect a 3D printed F-150 grill at Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center.FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Ford’s first 3-D printer, bought in 1988, paved the way for the company’s now 90 installed 3-D printers in use in global operations. Applications range from spare parts for its own production lines to 3-D printed brake parts for the 2019 Shelby Mustang GT500. Just this week, Ford announced a $45 million investment into its Advanced Manufacturing Center housing 23 3-D printers. The team is well aware of the time- and cost-savings possible by integrating 3-D printing into its manufacturing workflow and shares a glimpse in the latest announcement, stating, “One application currently under development has the potential to save the company more than $2 million.”

This unnamed application isn’t an error of omission; 3-D printing remains something of a ‘secret sauce’ for automakers. While the biggest names in vehicle manufacture have long been using 3-D printers, it’s been considered a competitive advantage with detailed use cases relatively scarce. This veil of secrecy is beginning to lift, though, as the technology becomes more ubiquitous and trusted in production environments and transforms into a selling point in itself.

Industy News| Additive Manufacturing Is Driving The Future Of The Automotive Industry

                             3-D printed window guide rail for BMW i8 Roadster coming off the 3-D printerBMW GROUP

BMW recently reported that it had 3-D printed its one millionth component in series production since 2010, having been working with additive manufacturingsince 1990 for prototyping and development use. That millionth part, a window guide rail for the BMW i8 Roadster, was created using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology; up to 100 of these parts can be produced in 24 hours.

Volkswagen too is focusing on enhancing operations with 3-D printing. With desktop 3-D printers a mainstay for creating tooling, jigs and fixtures, larger machines are now bringing metal 3-D printing into end-use part production. The company has announced work on metal components with technologies from HP for mass production and Additive Industries for advanced tooling and spare parts.

"A complete vehicle will probably not be manufactured by a 3D printer any time soon, but the number and size of parts from the 3D printer will increase significantly. Our goal is to integrate printed structural parts into the next generation of vehicles as quickly as possible. In the long term, we expect a continuous increase in unit numbers, part sizes and technical requirements – right up to soccer [ball]-size parts of over 100,000 units per year,” said Dr. Martin Goede, Volkswagen’s Head of Technology Planning and Development, upon the announcement of integrating HP Metal Jet technology into operations.

Bugatti, Chrysler, GM, Honda, Kia, Porsche, Toyota -- the list goes on as traditional automotive OEMs embrace 3-D printing. Last year, Daimler announced a spare parts program to 3-D print plastic replacement parts for its Daimler Trucks North America business, as well as a metal 3-D printing program for its Mercedes-Benz Trucks operations. Audi, with long experience in 3-D printing, established a Competence Center for 3D Printing in November 2016 and has continued to invest in the technology, such as through a metal-focused partnership with EOS.

Additive manufacturing is also enabling entirely new approaches to automotive manufacture, with young companies introducing new vehicular concepts centering around the technology. A fully 3-D printed car emerged a few years ago as Local Motors’ Strati showcased the power of large-scale 3-D printing, for example, while the Divergent 3D Blade takes 3-D printing to the supercar.

Racing companies have also been speeding ahead with their use of 3-D printing, with the likes of McLaren and Team Penske adopting the technology. Parts like steering wheels fitted exactly to a specific driver’s hands and grip and helmet attachments for cameras are making the driving experience more streamlined and personalized, while prototypes for new designs to zip to the finish line remain a major use in Formula One and NASCAR. In racing more than any other area of automotive, specifics are likely to remain under wraps as the competitive advantages enabled by unique designs come down to the millisecond as every extra ounce of weight or aerodynamic drag matters.

3-D printing will continue to become ever more enmeshed in automotive applications.Engineers and line workers are coming to trust and depend on additive manufacturing more every day. With millions of parts already 3-D printed and in use, the automotive industry is set to continue to pick up the pace of adoption. The road ahead is clear for more automotive 3-D printing as the technology is both competitive advantage and, increasingly, necessary for keeping up with the competition.


News / Recommended news More
2020 - 07 - 02
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a technology that is best suited for making customized parts that are tailor-made for specific geometries and specifications. In situations where a person has faced severe injuries whether from accident or military action may require reconstructive surgery for getting back to normal life. In such situations, such parts can be reconstructed using titanium or stainless...
2020 - 07 - 02
Recreating Damascus steel remains a holy grail of materials science. The exact process and alloys used are long ago lost to time. At best, modern steelworking methods are able to produce a rough visual simulacra of sorts that many still consider to be pretty cool looking. Taking a more serious bent at materials science than your average knifemaker, a group of scientists at the Max Planck institute...
2020 - 07 - 02
The BMW Group has opened a new €15 million additive manufacturing facility which is designed to “industrialize 3D printing,” and shorten production times across the company.  Based in Munich, the campus will bring BMW’s prototype production, series parts manufacturing, research into new 3D printing technologies, and training, together under one roof. The centre will also house around 50 ...
2020 - 06 - 24
By controlling the speed and power of lasers used in 3D printing, a research team in Switzerland reports a method to create novel metal alloys with complex, tailored geometries and functionality.In a proof-of-concept study that the researchers say may be applicable to a range of metal alloys, they used additive manufacturing (AM) to make a 4×4-mm piece of steel alloy with a chessboard pattern...
Uniris Exhibition Shanghai Co., Ltd.
Shanghai Branch 
Tel: 4000 778 909
Guangzhou Branch
Tel:020-8327 6389
PM CHINA Official Website
Scan the QR code to visit the official website by phone