According to Jaymes Kine, writing for Massivit 3D, 3D printing technology has made an impact on several different industries and has changed the way we view manufacturing procedures forever. When thinking about automotive manufacturing, many people may be surprised at how many ways 3D printing can affect the speed, durability and creativity of the manufacturing process.
Additive manufacturing adoption is growing across manufacturing facilities globally, evidenced by the increasing use of enterprises finding new applications for 3D printing, using CAD, simulation and reverse engineering internally.
The 3D printing technology market in the automotive industry is expected to grow another 20% annually and reach $7.9 billion in spending by 2027. Currently, 20-30% of automotive companies are using 3D manufacturing technology in prototype building.
The market’s growth mainly depends on the supply chain of raw materials, spare parts for the printer, and extensive manual labour. Properly implemented into the overall manufacturing process, 3D printing can reduce up to 90% of manual labour, overall tool production costs, and waste of expensive material.
Automotive designers can use additive manufacturing to quickly fabricate a prototype of a physical part or assembly, from a simple interior element to a dashboard or even a scale model of an entire car. Rapid prototyping enables companies to turn ideas into convincing proofs of concept.
The possible parts these versatile machines are able to produce range from car seats to engine parts to interior and exterior frames that can withstand high-performance conditions. Many top international automakers have already implemented this technology into their workflow.
Companies like Ford, BMW, and Volvo have found that making their own parts at the facility is both quicker than waiting for suppliers to deliver these parts and more reliable than depending on global supply chains. In fact, Ford has reported saving billions of dollars and millions of man hours by replacing old manufacturing procedures with 3D printing.
All this innovation really comes together when we start to look at the custom car market. Large, customised parts for customers and auto shows can be produced in a fraction of the time that it used to take. This upgrade plays a major role when we start to talk about large customisable vehicles such as Recreational vehicles (RVs).
RVs have been one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors in the automobile marketplace. Data shows that in 2019 alone, the RV industry had an overall economic impact on the US economy of $114 billion, supporting nearly 600,000 jobs. Because of area constraints within the vehicles, uninterrupted components are customised and produced to fit the design of individual RVs and vehicle owners.