How is 3D printing applied in the automotive industry?
3D Printing (or better known as additive manufacturing) refers to a bunch of processes that offer a spectrum of potential means for the production of parts and products in different fields. To draw a picture, mainly focuses on the making of a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down successive layers of a specific material. In recent years, 3D printing has gone beyond being an aid just to the industrial and manufacturing process. From small-scale ventures to budding enthusiasts, everyone is making use of 3D printing techniques to integrate processes smoothly. Hence, one can see exponential growth in its popularity and usage in almost all fronts of the socio-economic sector.
The automotive industry is one such sector that has immensely benefited from the progress in 3D printing techniques. It has become the fastest-growing vertical by employing the applications of additive manufacturing. From BMW to Volkswagen, the who’s who of the industry have aligned their manufacturing processes with innovations of 3D printing to generate stronger, safer, and better designs and products.
So, let’s have a look at the top ten pertinent applications of 3D printing in the automotive industry:
- Design Models: Designs in the automotive industry which define the scope for the product with convincing prototypes have improved with 3D scale models in the form of a vehicle.
- Prototypes: From a full-size mirror to highly detailed dashboards, additive manufacturing technology has helped in building better prototypes in each and every potential capacity.
- Communication: Accurate models and simulations produced with the help of additive manufacturing techniques have allowed the intentions of design to be clearly communicated by showcasing the overall form of the concept.
- Production Tooling: A time-consuming process that produces the jigs and fixtures for models has now become cost-effective, faster, and improved in functionality because of 3D printers.
- Evaluation of Ergonomics: With additive manufacturing, the assessment process generally carried out to identify risks and improvements is now conducted in a drastically smaller time frame than before.
- Performance Validation: The results from test runs serve as the validations which mitigate the risks for investments in high-cost operations at the production stage.
- Increased Viability: The fact that the size and efficiency of industrial 3D printers have improved provides a more viable option for many medium-sized production runs, particularly beneficial for higher-end automobile manufacturers.
- Examination of critical innovations: From gas flows to flow through turbo parts, analysis of critical automobile parts is now available at lower costs and faster execution with efficient 3D model simulations.
- Customization: Additive manufacturing has revolutionized the vision for the cost of highly complex one-off components which justify the core model improvements with substantially easier means.
- Optimal Delivery: 3D printers have catered to develop parts tailored to meet specific vehicle or driver demands with optimized topography of many custom automotive components.
Technology is an ever-evolving entity driven by the motive to make human lives easier and better. Something that feels impossible today, would probably be an accessory of tomorrow. And, undoubtedly, 3D printing is bringing one change in one field at a time. The applications of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry are huge. A fully 3D printed car from the ground up might not be a far-fetched dream in near future. The relationship between additive manufacturing and the automotive industry is one that can surely be expected to only improve with time.
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