Automotive industry has been a very early adopter
of Additive Manufacturing technologies.
In the 80s and 90s better known as Rapid Prototyping
It started with Laminated Object Manufacturing and Stereolithography
used for prototyping and pattern making. This technologies speed up
development cycles and made part iterations faster and more efficient.
Today all car manufacturers do have their own AM technology departments.
Those departments usually have a wide variety of different AM technologies.
Every year thousands of parts are produced to prototype new designs and
evaluate their haptics. This is the key advantage to virtual prototyping.
This video about BMWs Rapid Technology Center gives a few insides [link]
Parts to evaluate new concepts
With the rise of electric vehicles car manufacturers were facing a strong need
for small test fleets of cars to evaluate the technologies under real life conditions.
Batch sizes too small for mass production and possible further iterations to come
made AM technologies the way to go.
Concept cars at international car shows like in Geneva or Detroit usually have
a very high percentage of additively manufactured parts. Low batch numbers,
short lead times and no real life load cases make AM ideal to realize these projects.
Selective Laser Sintering / Laser Sintering is the technology most used to build parts.
But depending on requirements pretty much all AM technologies are used to realize
this dreams of the future.
High performance and luxury cars
The total number of produced parts is one of the elemental factors if AM is cost efficient or not.
This is why you may find even under the carbon fiber interior of luxury cars parts made of Polyamide
built by using Selective Laser Sintering technology. Sometimes AM is the only way to realize a new design
or just the only cost-efficient. Swedish high performance car manufacturer KOENIGSEGG uses
Direct Metal Laser Sintering to produce turbo charger housings.
In Formula One not every part is build in Titanium and Carbon Fiber Composites.
Many parts under the fairings does not need to be made of an high-tech material.
But those parts need to have the perfect shape to utilise the space given in the
most efficient way. So when a standard hose clamp doesn’t do the job it most
likely be build by Selective Laser Sintering or Filament Freeform Fabrication.
What will the future bring?
Car manufacturers and design companies are sketching
the future of cars also in 3D using Additive Manufacturing.
The German company EDAG is pushing the idea of producing cars
additively with concepts like the GENESIS presented in Geneva 2014 [VIDEO]
2015 EDAG presented the Light Cocoon [VIDEO]
Would you like to know more about how AM technologies
can push your business? Contact us
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