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In today’s automotive market, consumers are demanding more. For automakers, in addition to incorporating more innovative features with new car designs, they also must continue to improve their car designs to be lighter, more fuel-saving, as well as being able to allow consumers to customize their cars.
It has been simply unimaginable 20 years ago to meet these demands. But today’s rapid developing SLA & metal printing technologies open new landscape for automakers, enabling them to offer on-demand services and consistently evolve their cars to be lighter, smarter, and more customizable. (>>>> How Do 3D Prototype Manufacturing Process & Company Benefit Automakers?)
Automakers Are Most Bullish on SLA & Metal Printing Technologies
SLA & metal printing technologies are reshaping the way automakers design and manufacture their cars. Investment in 3D printing technologies in the automotive industry globally will continue to expand. It is predicted that in 2021, the total spending in developing 3D printing applications in the automotive sector will exceed 2.3 billion dollars. With so many efforts continuously be made in automotive 3D printing, 3D printed cars will no longer a far-off concept.
At present, automakers are widely using stereolithography 3D printing methods to create highly accurate prototypes thereby developing the critical car parts that are highly functional yet lighter in weight. They widely utilize SLS 3D printing technology to produce high-quality prototypes for functional testing. They also use 3D metal printing technologies like DMLS to make parts with reduced weight and with complex geometric structures that are difficult to machine.
After seeing the great potential of 3D printing in car manufacturing, there are a growing number of automakers are using the rapid manufacturing services in their design and manufacture of car parts. For example, the world’s most famous car company - BMW, has made 10,000+ 3D printed parts for its Rolls-Royce Phantom. The company is seeing 3D printing as one of “main manufacturing methods” in the future and is striving to explore new advances in this technology to shorten lead times and improve design & manufacturing flexibility.
Another car manufacturing giant, Mercedes-Benz, is also using SLS & metal printing processes to create high-quality, on-demand spare parts. In this way, even decades after the final production of the model, they can still provide the spare parts of this model. The designs of spare parts are digitally stocked in 3D files. Simply print it out with a 3D printer when needed, significantly reducing the cost of inventory and maintenance.
SLA & Metal Printing Technologies Lead to Better Car Designs
One of the biggest benefits of 3D rapid manufacturing services to the automotive industry is that they allow designers to create bolder, more innovative, and more complex designs using lighter components. It has already proved in the aerospace industry.
For example, when designing its new turboprop aircraft engines, GE Aviation has successfully used 3D printing technology to reduce the number of needed parts from 855 to only 12. The weight of the engine was thus reduced by 5%, which resulted in 20% lower fuel consumption and 10% more power. In addition, fewer parts also mean less wear and tear, and long service life.
3D rapid manufacturing services also bring similar benefits to the automotive industry. Car designers now can freely unleash their creativity by incorporating thin walls, web-like lattices, and other intricate geometric structures into their designs. With the constantly advanced SLS and metal printing techniques, automakers can create more complex metal assemblies and parts, like engine components that can be difficult, or expensive, or simply impossible to create by CNC machining,
SLS & Metal Printing Technologies Offer Greater Manufacturing Flexibility
SLS & metal printing technologies also give automakers greater manufacturing flexibility. They can now send their 3D CAD files to a professional rapid manufacturing services provider and receive a quote within hours. After receiving the quote, they can make adjustments to their design, such as the surface finish or materials of the parts, and see the corresponding pricing changes in real-time. They can not only get printed parts within days but also effectively control the cost.
In today’s competitive environment of product development, it is increasingly critical to simplify and accelerate the processes of getting new products to market without compromising quality. Many car makers are turning to 3D printing to reduce the design cycle, better manage the production and speed the time-to-market.
The Future of Rapid Manufacturing Services in the Automotive
Car designs will continue to evolve toward greater customization to cater to more personalized needs, and toward the use of new materials to reduce weight. 3D rapid manufacturing services will help automakers further simplify and optimize their designs, incorporate new features into their parts, reduce the weight of components, as well as streamline the manufacturing process and cut costs. So to speak, 3D printing could ultimately fundamentally change the course of car design and manufacturing. (>>>> 3D Rapid Prototyping Service & Company Are Changing the Automotive Industry)