Evolutionary acceleration of production for the Automotive Industry
Automotive production trends rise and dive at the drop of a hat, swayed by environmental forces ranging from demand to supply chain dynamics. Right now, it’s all about the base trends of electrification, mass customisation, connectivity, propulsion, and efficiency.
Where does polymer additive manufacturing (AM – 3D printing in volume for end use) fit into all of this?
AM enables production of lighter component parts, in turn enabling a lowering in fuel consumption. Whilst the issue of range is resolved in the development of electric vehicles, this can only be a positive. From optimising topology and overcoming complexity challenges, to generating lattices to improve impact protection whilst removing density, the AM advantage is clear: tooling costs are eliminated; and parts can be simplified (with integration in subassemblies) or enhanced in terms of complexity. Without tooling, production times can be as little as 25% of using more traditional methods of part production.
The ultimate luxury for the luxury car owner – a design delivered to meet the specific delights of the customer. The AM advantage here comes in the form of mass customisation. To personalise every badge or handle on a run of 850 cars through CNC or injection moulding would be wasteful in terms of material, costly in terms of tooling, and time consuming in terms of production. Additive manufacturing enables production of multiple parts where every item on the print bed can be different.