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Rapid Prototyping

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.


Production Tooling

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.

Parts Production

The use of metal as a printing material is still in its early stages. Audi, as one example, is using 3D to produce the metal water pump wheel of its DTM racecar, which replaces a previously plastic part. The German car manufacturer is also using the technology to produce spare parts and in turn disrupt the supply chain.

The current method of dealers ordering parts from a central location is costly and time consuming. While Audi hasn’t as yet implemented 3D printing across its entire part catalog, by virtue of placing 3D printers around the globe it is able to print certain parts on demand. Besides benefiting the customer, the process is eliminating the over production of certain parts.

Continuous Parts Improvement

The use of 3D printing in the automotive industry doesn’t begin and end with the printed part. As manufacturers embed tracing marks and sensors into the product, they will be able to track every step of a product lifecycle from initial 3D object scan to design through production, quality measurement, delivery and real-world use. Using in-lifecycle information, manufacturers can improve the design and fabrication of future parts.

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The potential for a continuous improvement cycle becomes huge as the entire manufacturing process moves seamlessly from physical to digital and back to physical to create a “blended reality.” Manufacturers will be able to improve auto parts based on their performance or use and even modify them for weather and travel patterns.

Today, there is a focus among product manufacturers on enhancing the prototyping process through 3D printing applications with a view to establishing robust spare parts production in the next five years. This effort will help eliminate the risks and uncertain costs associated with warehousing products that are not in demand. And advancements will continue. Product postponement capabilities are expected to emerge within the next 10 years that will give industrial companies fingertip access to a wide range of parts created only as needed.

Optimizing opportunities

Five key areas will need to be developed to enable companies to take full advantage of the 3D printing opportunities they identify. These areas include:

Agile design engineering. Industrial engineers will need to employ a flexible, multi-stage process using 3D printing software that can enable them to visualize, test, validate, customize and readily modify 3D printing products.
Sourcing. They also should use the latest 3D printing technologies to maximize their ability to capitalize on new opportunities and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Establishing a manufacturing digital ecosystem that focuses on the digital attributes of 3D printing will help companies sustain a competitive edge. To reduce design costs, companies should fully exploit the pay-per-print process, as it moves design closer to prototyping, creates product concepts in less time at lower costs, and reduces the need for external, physical prototyping.
Distribution. Developing a dynamic digital supply network is key. It should include material suppliers, intellectual property considerations, and a digital inventory management system for warehousing in-demand 3D digital product files and spare parts to support customization.
3D manufacturing. As demand for tailored products and services increases, integrating 3D manufacturing into the organization’s existing production processes could be essential to competing in the emerging industrial product market. The accelerated prototyping and additive manufacturing capabilities 3D printing provides also could help manufacturers reduce costs, save time and increase profitability.

Logistics and field service

While it seems ideal, having parts in the right place at the right time can actually be a handful. And it’s one of the larger financial outlays that a manufacturer has to keep in mind. In fact, transportation often accounts for 10 to 12 percent of a manufacturer’s yearly budget. What’s more, if a product isn’t available at a dealership or parts store when a customer needs it, there’s a good chance they’ll go elsewhere next time they have a problem. movers and packers vadodara

3D printing, however, stands to nullify this problem, as dealerships, parts stores and even field service teams may soon be able to 3D print parts on-site. While this may be in the more distant future, this could save companies time and money, and keep customers satisfied and loyal.

The automotive service supply chain is already in a state of change. With brands such as Tesla allowing customers to circumvent the conventional dealership model and work with the OEM – along with third-party vendors like Amazon making forays into the automotive aftermarket – automotive after-sales service is already much different than it was even just a few years ago. And as 3D printing continues to become a bigger piece of the pie, the space will continue to evolve.

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