Although 3D printing has existed since the 1980s, many people are still unaware of what it is. At its most basic level, 3D printing is a manufacturing process. During this process, the 3D printer lays down material layer by layer until a 3D shape is created.
Unlike many other manufacturing methods, 3D printing is an additive process. This means it creates a 3D shape from scratch instead of milling, drilling, cutting, or machining an existing material. This helps to make the finished item more robust and more durable.
There are many benefits of 3D printing. As well as allowing manufacturers to make prototypes quickly, this type of manufacturing also produces less waste and can be more cost-effective. Thanks to this, many industries are starting to use 3D printing to manufacture parts.
One industry that has been using 3D printing is the automotive industry. Keep reading below to find out all about 3D printing in the automotive industry:
3D Printing in the Automotive Industry
The automotive industry has been using 3D printing for several decades now. It was primarily used to create automotive prototypes allowing carmakers to check their fit and form. However, while these parts looked good and were great for checking the fit, they couldn’t be used for long periods as they were too weak. Thankfully, with additive manufacturing, this has now changed. 3D printing can now create more heavy-duty parts, not just prototypes.
Examples of Automotive Applications of 3D printing
Currently, the automotive industry uses 3D printers for several applications. These include:
- Prototyping of vehicle parts
- Low-volume part production
- Tooling, jigs, and fixtures
- Personalized parts
- On-demand production of spare parts for discontinued or classic cars
The Benefits of 3D Printing
There are, in fact, several benefits of using a 3D printer. Here are some of the main ones:
- It’s cheaper – additive manufacturing is much cheaper than traditional methods of manufacturing.
- It’s quick – 3D printing requires a shorter production time.
- It can be customized – there are limitless options for customization with 3D printing.
- Easily make changes – Manufacturers have the ability to try multiple options during the development stage to see which one works best.
The Future of 3D Printing in the Automotive Industry
As technology and research continue to develop, we expect to see an increase in the number of automotive manufacturers adopting 3D printing technology. One application we expect to see in the future is the production of actual vehicle parts using 3D printing technology. This includes parts under the bonnet and interior parts, such as the car trim. As well as this, we expect to see 3D printers being used to print entire cars. This is even more likely now that we are changing to electric vehicles.
Over the last few years, many industries have used 3D printers, including the automotive industry. Not only does it allow them to create prototypes more quickly than ever before, but it also allows them to produce products on demand, meaning they don’t need a large storage space. Thanks to these benefits, and many more, we expect even more industries to adopt this manufacturing method in the future.