Additive manufacturing leads to 3D printing, and it helps the automotive industry in three main ways. Using 3D printers, you can quickly make prototypes that can help with the design and testing stages of production. It also allows manufacturers to make spare parts that fit their needs. Finally, additive manufacturing of composite materials protects automotive parts that are more accessible, more complex, and more long-lasting to make and use.
Additive Manufacturing has a lot of benefits
Additive manufacturing has grown into a high priority in the automotive industry, with this technology being used more and more in development and spread. So, ideas can be done faster, and time and money can be saved. Momentum and flexibility make us better than our competitors.
There are a lot of different parts and prototypes for cars that can be made with additive manufacturing. This means that the series can be created more quickly. In prototyping, fixtures, stock, and assembly help, additive manufacturing technology have become the norm, with products ready in various durable and flexible materials. For a long time, the German company RepRap has been meeting the needs of the BMW Group.
The German RepRap x500 has been used to make prototypes in the early stages of development, which helps to keep costs, deadlines, and quality in check. Additive manufacturing (AM) technology can make everything from classic spare parts to tools and auxiliary equipment. It can also be used to make things on the market. However, the most important thing is to design it how you want.
AM allows designers to develop entirely new ideas about how things should look and how they should work. This technology makes it possible to produce parts with complex structures and bionic shapes that are difficult or even impossible to make. It also makes it easier, faster, and of good enough quality.
Furthermore, German RepRap adds to the range of materials used. High-temperature, fiber-reinforced, or flexible materials are used in different places, depending on the application’s needs. In addition, the car manufacturer saves money and time because no tools have to be made anymore.
Reduce the cost of storage and inventory
Using distributed manufacturing, a company can design in one place and make it in another that is closer to the customer, which means they don’t have to store the product and cut down on inventory costs. Distributed manufacturing, when used with 3D printing, can make it easier to switch from a “make-to-stock” model to a “make-to-order” model.
We’ve seen businesses use distributed manufacturing often, especially during the pandemic, when many people were sick. There is a lot of health and medical equipment. People who make things like ventilators, masks, and other things to keep people safe had to cut back on their reliance on global supply chains and logistics costs and use distributed manufacturing to make things that were hard to get (PPE).
A lot of money can still be saved by how companies make their products. Additive manufacturing can save time and money by combining resources like time and money. It’s possible to avoid supplier bottlenecks. Flexibility is often a significant factor, especially when meeting a goal quickly.
End-use parts are becoming more common
Excellent manufacturers have also used 3D printing to make parts that will be used instead of just prototypes. You can think of this as a fight to find new products in an industry like the automotive industry, which can be summed up as a search for new things to improve your products. One way to control product innovation is to make a much better part of it by making it lighter.
People who make high-end cars are also interested in new ways to improve their products. Indeed, one benefit of using AM is that parts can be made lighter so that less fuel is used to drive cars. Over time, CAD and CAM solutions have changed a lot, especially for making things made with additive manufacturing.
They use topology optimization, generative design, and lattice generation tools, making parts lighter but keeping or improving their function. A lot of simple things happen in parts that aren’t heavy. But because AM isn’t limited in design freedom, complexity doesn’t pose a problem with other methods.
It should also be said that parts can be simplified thanks to AM, making it easier to combine several functions into a single one. If any of these parts had to be made in the long run, assembly complexity could be cut down. There are more ways to make things unique as well. Some high-end carmakers already use 3D printing to make cars that meet the needs of their customers.
Conventional manufacturing methods like CNC or injection molding would not make unique parts that could meet tight lead times. The cost of making the parts before would also be very different. As another example, personalization can repair spare parts for older cars that need to be repaired.
For example, A 3D Printed Minibus Olli
Local Motors made a 3D-printed electric minibus called Olli in 2016. In the EV field, it was created in 2016. The manufacturer asked for about 80% of parts to be 3D printed, which cut production time by 90%. Speed is also limited to 40 km/h, making Olli good for city centers, universities, and hospitals because it can’t go faster.
As more and more people want cars that can connect to the internet, the need for electronic devices, like sensors and antennas, in the car is also growing. With this growth, there is more demand for smaller, more complex electronics to be designed and made. Micro and nano-scale 3D printing technologies can make more complicated electronic parts that can be used right away in a car.
In addition, electronic 3D printing can cut down on the costs and time it takes to make these devices. As we said before, customizing has a lot of options. For example, MINI customers can make the side inserts and the passenger-side sideband in the cockpit of their cars. BMW Group has made more than 140,000 parts with 3D printing over a wide range of projects. To make parts that are more complex and more durable, almost every company in the world is investing in 3D printing technologies.