Revolutionising the automotive industry with 3D printing

Rewolucyjny Druk 3d w motoryzacji

3D printing is an innovative technology that is changing the face of many industries and in particular the automotive industry. In recent years, car manufacturers have made bolder use of 3D printing technology, bringing an innovative approach to vehicle design.

Automotive is currently one of the fastest growing industries and the most automated production in the world, which needs efficient production machines but also creative engineers with courage to use new technologies. 3D printing is a key factor in the transformation of the automotive industry because it not only speeds up production processes, but also opens up new design possibilities.

The common feature of automotive and additive technologies is #speed, #automation, #modernity, which we can be illustrated the example of vehicle production. The process of designing a new vehicle shape requires a creative approach to both design and technology. Extraordinary models of new vehicle part forms are created in 3D engineering programmes, the actual appearance of which can be verified using 3D printing. The most commonly chosen method for prototyping automotive components is the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) or MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) powder printing method due to the high quality and accuracy of printing. During the prototyping stage of a new vehicle, each component is thoroughly tested on a full one-to-one scale because only evaluating the model under real-world conditions is the most effective way to verify the achievement of the intended design goals. 3D printing in the design and prototyping phase is the most cost-effective but also the fastest method – within a few hours we receive a printed model and any corrections can be applied to the next printout. Large sizes, such as car or bus bumpers, are not an obstacle for 3D printing – they can be printed in several parts and then joined together using special joining techniques for individual 3D printing technologies.

In batch production, moulding technologies (injection moulding, casting, thermoforming) are most commonly used, but these methods only start to be profitable from high volumes (usually hundreds of thousands of units) and additional production tools are very expensive. An alternative to moulding technology is 3D printing – the number of available materials, printing technologies and various surface finish options also provides an opportunity for spare parts suppliers to print custom automotive parts ‘to order’. Digital spare parts warehouses are in line with current sustainability trends and the savings from eleminating physical warehouses can be enormous. Digital libraries of automotive parts and rapid additive manufacturing could be a key link in the revolution of the automotive industry.

An ideal alternative to injection moulding for short- to medium-volume production is HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printing technology, which can produce highly accurate and durable parts in a short time. Multi Jet Fusion is a 3D printing technology using powder fusion that was launched by Hewlett-Packard in 2016. MJF technology takes its name from the multiple inkjet heads performing the process of printing, re-coating the material and spreading and heating the medium using separate heads. The heads move across the print table in different directions to create fused powder structures. Parts produced using MJF printing are ideal for automotive end-use, low to medium volume production and rapid prototyping or as an intermediate process for injection moulding. MJF printing technology in the HP system stands for excellent precision and repeatability – we can achieve part thicknesses as low as 0.5 mm! MJF prints processing friendly – sandblasting and cleaning as standard and optional chemical colouring or application of various coatings (check our possibilities of finishing printed parts).

3D printing is also finding its way into manufacturing parts. Tools such as assembly sockets, gauges and shape gauges, robot arm tips, housings and covers are just a few of the parts that can be made using incremental technologies, which are easily modified if necessary.

If you represent the automotive industry – create new parts and need fast prototypes or build machines such as automotive assembly or test stations, see how we can help you with your projects by sending an enquiry via our contact form.

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