• 3D Printing
  • 3D Printing Applications in the Automotive Industry

The widespread application of 3D printing technology in the field of automotive parts has become a general trend. Some people say that it will be a major breakthrough in the automotive industry and will most likely overturn the traditional "four major processes." Nowadays, ideals seem to fit into reality. With the continuous emancipation of the "Industry 4.0 concept", 3D printing is one of the core technologies supported by this revolution. In recent years, 3D printing has once again been pushed to the top of the market and has been used in many industries. And the manufacturing industry's proud son - automotive and parts manufacturing is the focus of 3D printing technology promotion. However, the lightweighting of automobiles is a long-term trend. In traditional automobiles, the lightweighting of automobiles is the only way to save energy and reduce consumption.

Compared to traditional manufacturing processes, what can 3D printing bring to the automotive industry?


In terms of design


Using 3D printing technology, a conceptual model can be produced in hours or days. Due to the rapid prototyping of 3D printing, automotive manufacturers can apply to the development of automotive form factors. Compared with traditional hand-made clay models, 3D printing can more accurately convert 3D designs into physical objects, and the time is shorter, improving the production efficiency at the automotive design level. At present, many manufacturers have begun to use 3D printing technology in the design, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz Design Center.


In terms of materials


3D printing allows for a wide variety of material choices, different mechanical properties, and accurate functional prototyping, allowing manufacturers to correct mistakes and refine designs at any time in advance, minimizing error costs.

In terms of fixtures


3D printing technology provides a fast and accurate method, which greatly reduces the cost and time for tool production. As a result, automakers are rapidly improving their productivity, efficiency and quality.


For production tools such as water-soluble cores, carbon fiber packages, injection molding, and other 3D printing applications, companies can quickly customize tools, reduce costs, and shorten time-to-market.


In the final use of parts manufacturing


Automakers use 3D printing technology to automate small-volume custom parts and production, and to create and manufacture complex geometries such as organic shapes, hollows, and negative stretches. 3D printing can quickly create complex parts. When a problem occurs in the test, modify the 3D file and print again to test again.


With the rapid increase in the application of 3D printing technology in the automotive industry, a well-known market consultancy, Frost & Sullivan, recently released a related investigation report, predicting that the market size of 3D printing for automobiles is expected to reach US$4.3 billion by 2025. Almost all automakers such as Ford, BMW, Lamborghini, Volkswagen, General Motors, Porsche, Honda, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, etc. are continuing to explore the possibilities of 3D printing.

In the era of rapid technological innovation, “3D printing” is hot and has been used in many industries. Automobiles and parts manufacturing is the focus of 3D printing technology. At present, not only automotive chassis, interiors, and body exterior covers, etc. Many parts and components have been successfully used ABS plastic and carbon fiber materials as the basic material, to achieve 3D printing production, "whole vehicle" printing has also been shown many times, printing time is getting shorter and shorter, the level of technology is getting higher and higher, earning Full of the world's attention.


The current mainstream 3D printing technology has seven basic types, namely: material melt extrusion FDM, adhesive spray 3DP, material droplet ejection, powder material flat melting, direct energy deposition LENS, thin material overlay LOM, photosensitive resin Tile SLA. Among them, FDM, powder coating melting and SLA have been applied in the automotive industry, and not only auto parts, many companies have begun boldly trying to print the "whole" car.

The advantages of 3D printing

Compared with traditional manufacturing CNC machining and other "material reduction manufacturing technologies," the appeal of 3D printing technology lies in the fact that parts of any shape can be directly generated from computer graphics data, and development of complex structural metal parts can be eliminated. Module link, shorten new product development cycle, save more manpower, financial resources and time, with low manufacturing costs, short development cycle, high production efficiency and obvious advantages. In addition, when 3D printing technology is used to verify the feasibility of product assembly in the early stages of design, it can discover the feasibility of product design errors, complex parts or prototypes in a timely manner.

It is also the strength of 3D printing technology to produce parts that are complex in shape, small in size, and difficult to manufacture! Based on its principle, 3D printing technology is used for high-volume production. Although not fast and expensive, this technology starts from scratch and is not subject to traditional processing methods. It can produce almost any shape of product. For example, a part with a complex but very precise hole, or a thin, thin arm, is faster and easier to use than a traditional process using a 3D printing process. The most important thing is that 3D printing technology is not to stick to the process of manufacturing parts, but more depends on the idea, the more bizarre, the more the traditional processing can not be processed parts, the more the use of 3D printing technology Take a place. In this process, the cost savings are also the greatest appeal of 3D printing to users compared to traditional processes.
Application at this stage

Compared with the traditional automobile manufacturing industry, currently, the production capacity of 3D printing is still low, and it is difficult to mass-produce large-scale production. In addition, due to the need to take into account factors such as safety, raw material quality and cost factors are difficult to balance, resulting in high cost of bicycle production also restricts the commercialization of 3D cars at this stage.

At this stage, the application of 3D printing may be more suitable for the design field and the automotive R&D phase, as well as single-piece small-batch production, such as the sludge model of the entire vehicle, the development of components such as the body, chassis, and synchronizer, and rubber and plastics. Single part production.
In the design field, automotive manufacturers can apply to the development of automotive exterior designs due to the rapid prototyping of 3D printing. Compared with the traditional hand-made clay model, 3D printing can more accurately convert 3D design drawings into physical objects, and the time is shorter, improving the production efficiency at the automotive design level. At present, many automotive manufacturers have begun to use 3D printing technology in the design, such as the Mercedes-Benz Design Center.

In the area of parts and components, 3D printing technology can also rapidly produce complex-shaped products. In the traditional automobile manufacturing field, the development of auto parts often requires a long time of research and development and testing. From the R&D to the testing stage, it is also necessary to make parts molds, which are not only long but also costly. Correcting parts also requires the same lengthy period when there is a problem. The 3D printing technology can quickly create complicated parts. When there is a problem with the test, modify the 3D file and print again to test again. It can be said that 3D printing technology will make the development cost of future parts even lower and more efficient.