The Benefits of 3D Printing in the Automotive Industry

Auto Tech Outlook | Wednesday, November 24, 2021

FREMONT, CA: For several decades, the automotive industry relied heavily on 3D printing to manufacture automotive prototypes and test their form and fit. The first manufacturing technology was selective laser sintering or binder jetting. This enabled automakers to manufacture aesthetically pleasing components, but they were inherently weak and could not be used for an extended time. According to engineering.com, today's automobile 3D printing technologies, such as fused filament fabrication (FFF), are more resilient and may be utilized to produce prototypes and end-use parts. 3D printing for automobile components has the potential to revolutionize the industry. According to the Global Automotive Outlook 2017, "the global automotive sector is expected to exceed 114 million global sales annually by 2024." This market has highly high entry barriers, as a few OEMs dominate it. The market for parts and accessories appears to be distinct. There are numerous large and small players, and the competition is fierce. This market is expected to reach approximately US$ 17 billion by the end of 2025. Finally, according to Machine Design, the automotive industry's use of 3D printing materials will reach approximately $530 million by 2021.

Perks of 3D printing in the automotive industry

Printing solutions for the automobile industry offer tangible benefits in terms of performance characteristics. 3D printing has the potential to supplant costly and time-consuming CNC manufacturing. 3D printed plastic components are more affordable and need less time to produce in-house. And this translates into cost savings, particularly when it comes to constructing complex bodies.

Since everything is manufactured on-site, in-house 3D prototyping can also assist in preventing Intellectual Property (IP) infringements or information leaks. Additionally, 3D prototyping can dramatically cut turnaround times throughout the production process, allowing for greater agility. Unlike traditional techniques to vehicle design (which applies to both automobiles and trucks) that include the use of a range of materials, 3D printing in automotive design enables a reduction in material consumption and waste, which benefits all phases of manufacture.

In the automotive sector, 3D printer-assisted design enables designers to experiment with various variations of the same detail and iterations at the early stages of new model development. It adds flexibility, which results in more efficient designs and the ability to make design modifications throughout the model review process. This enables automakers to stay current with consumer demands and to stay ahead of the competition.

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