One such example of using 3D printing technology for making car parts is the Urbee 2 concept, made by engineer Jim Kor. It’s a small, 10 feet long car, which was made in 2,500 hours thanks to a 3D printer, courtesy of RedEye, a company that provides 3D-printing services. The Urbee 2 is a three-wheeled car which can accommodate two people inside. The printer can print out several parts together without connectors, which are required with the conventional production methods. The chassis is made of molten polymer, but the engine will be made of metal. It will be powered by a combination of a 36-volt electric motor, and a diesel engine, and they will provide a total of 10 horsepower. Due to the fact that there more parts are joined and make one piece, the vehicle is lighter and that makes it more aerodynamic, with a 0.15 drag coefficient.
So, the logical question at this point would be if this concept is viable and whether we can expect all cars in the future to be produced this way. There are arguments for and against it. One downside to it is that it’s still to expensive and a lot of improvements need to be done to make 3D printers more affordable so that each car maker can purchase a couple of them and base their whole production on them.
However, the numerous advantages to 3D printing make it appealing and a lot of research is being done to further develop the technology. For example, you could order a car to be made to match your exact demands regarding each car part. You would be able to make your own designs, send them to a manufacturer, and they will make your dream car in a couple of days, since these printers can print practically every shape you can imagine. So, demand for such cars would be huge, forcing manufacturers to invest in the technology.
New developments in AM processes, along with related innovations in fields such as advanced materials, will benefit production within the automotive industry as well as alter traditional manufacturing and supply chain pathways. The very famous Shelby Cobra and Local Motors 3d printed car are two examples of the result of the advancement of 3d printing in automotive industry, which has paved a way to experience a notable transition that in the automotive industry.
For some years now, rapid prototyping has been helping automotive manufacturers to cut down lead times for designing new cars or updating current models. The use of 3D manufacturing means auto manufacturers can test a variety of prototypes before production. Ford says that prototype parts can be built in days or hours, versus months, at far less cost than using traditional methods since 3D printing eliminates the need for tooling and molds.
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In “3D opportunity in the automotive industry,” Deloitte University Press describes how that AM is enabling the fabrication of customized tools to boost shop floor production. It cites the use of AM by BMW in direct manufacturing to make hand tools that are used in test and assembly. BMW reported the customized tools helped save 58 percent in overall costs. It also reduced project time by 92 percent.
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