For the automotive industry recent advances in Additive Manufacturing (AM) (or 3D Printing) have opened doors for newer, more robust designs; lighter, stronger, and safer products; reduced lead times; and reduced costs
With 3D printing, automotive designers can 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. These concepts can then be advanced to high-fidelity prototypes that closely match the end result, and ultimately guide products through a series of validation stages toward mass production.
3D printing has also allowed for the creation of parts that simply could not be produced by any other means.
Engineers use manufacturing aids to make manufacturing and assembly processes simpler and more reliable, reducing cycle times and improving worker safety. Automotive factories and part suppliers use thousands of custom jigs and fixtures, each tailored and highly optimized for end-use.
Most components that go into the production of automobiles must be moisture resistant, if not moisture proof, entirely. One major benefit of additive manufacturing is that all printed parts can be post-processed in order to create a watertight and moisture resistant barrier
Spare parts have historically represented a challenge for the automotive industry. Demand by nature is sporadic and unpredictable, making the value of producing spare components a debatable financial decision in some instances. 3D printing is well-positioned to make a significant positive impact on the automotive industry’s spare parts problem. With the use of CAD, designs for all parts can be kept as a digital copy, making the need to keep inventory obsolete
Many automotive applications require significant heat deflection minimums. There are several AM processes that offer materials that withstand temperatures well above the average sustained engine compartment temperatures. SLS nylon, as well as some photo-cured polymers, are suitable for high-temperature applications.
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