Automotive Rapid Prototyping: Using 3D Printing Technology for Car Parts

Printing 3D parts for your car might seem a story that is better suited for the movie “Back to the Future”, but this technology is happening right now. NASA is currently building a Rover that has 3D printed car parts. This Rover will explore asteroids and Mars in the near future. So, if 3D printed automotive parts are good for NASA, then it certainly has a lot of potential for cars for us.

Is it good for Mass Production though?

If you are talking about mass produced car parts made from metal, then it is actually happening right now. Car parts that require the use of plastic will take some time before being mass produced. The rapid evolution of metal automotive parts technology is due to several factors. The reasons are discussed below:

 

Extreme Rivalry

 

Currently there are lots of companies that offer 3D printing technology, and many other companies are venturing into this sector as of now. Trumpf, Sisma, Concept Laser, and EOS are some world renowned companies in 3D printed automotive parts industry. Several other companies from the UK, EU, and Asia are trying to capture the market from these giants. These companies belong to the world’s most industrialized regions. So there is lot of competition among them and they are constantly trying to bring out the next best thing.

New Emerging Technologies

 

The consistent rivalry of all these companies is resulting in some breakthrough discoveries like Binder Jetting Technology which will be enormously beneficial than the previously used powder bed technology. It will be used to create large parts at a fraction of the previous costs. These days, an Israeli based automotive parts manufacturer, called XJET, is developing a machine that can make inkjet nano particles. This will result in sophisticated and smoothly finished car parts in the near future.

Growing Demand of Automotive Industry

 

Previously, 3D printed technology was only used in the Aerospace Industry because of its huge demand. But these days, smart car manufacturers are embracing this technology due to the sophistication and finesse that 3D printing provides. Also, they are ready to make not just prototypes alone, but fully fledged cars from these parts. The reason behind this is 3D printed parts can give them more flexibility to develop challenging geometrical shapes that was otherwise were not possible with traditionally developed car parts.

Few Examples of 3D Printing in Automotive Industry

 

Automotive 3D printing is not some children’s tale. It’s happening right now and there are few people who will vouch for it. From celebrities to Chinese armadas, 3D printed car parts are everywhere.

 

auto prototyps

Jay Leno’s Infamous Love for Cars and 3D Printed Car Parts

 

As you all know that the famous comedian Jay Leno has a reputation for loving all things cars and he has his own car show called “Jay Leno’s Garage”. Recently he has featured “Strati”, world’s first 3D printed car in his show. He has also used the 3D printing technology to repair several of his cars. He has a concept car that he built himself, which was also part of that brigade.

BMW and It’s 25th Year Partnership with 3D Printing Technology

 

The Germans are always a few steps ahead of us at adopting breakthrough technologies for mass production. While most of the companies in the automobile industry adopted 3D printing technology a few years ago, German auto giant BMW has jumped the bandwagon more than two decades ago. They have been using the rapid prototyping technology for 25 years. Back in 1990, they opened their Rapid Technology Center where stereolithography machines were used to print a 3D model of early design concepts and prototypes of specific components. They also used this technology to make customized exhaust parts and other components for their prototypes.

Chinese Armada and Their Love for 3D printing Technology

 

Previously the UK military and the US marines have used 3D printing technology to fix their bigger toys, but now the Chinese Military has also jumped the bandwagon. Recently they used 3D printed car components to repair an oil tanker truck that was damaged during a military exercise. Since then, they have ventured more into this technology as heavier tools cannot be carried properly in challenging terrains. 3D printed car parts can come really handy in these situations.

3D Printed Race Cars by Picaso

 

Picaso, a renowned 3D printing lab, has joined hands with “Formula Student” NSTU to develop 3D printed race cars for a team in Bauman. They are developing a car that will be the next best thing in the racing car arena.

In today’s world, 3D printing is a rapidly growing sector. The evidence of this sector’s growth can be seen everywhere. Although it started with some European countries, several Asian manufacturers are currently giving them lots of competition in this arena as well. Currently, China is the proud owner of 9% of the world’s total 3D printers and they are quite in demand among global buyers.

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