Automotive industry always remains on the risk of getting outdated and hence needs to be updated with modern inventions and designs from time to time. Similarly, the aerospace industry also looks up for newer innovative ways to manoeuvre their products to a safer and aerodynamic space. The automotive industry contributes significantly to a nation’s GDP. It could be figured out by the fact that the automotive sector is expected to touch USD 280 billion mark by 2026.
Major companies are adopting the Additive Manufacturing(AM) process for redefining their production process in a more effective and cost-efficient way. Ford Motor Company which is a leading automobile manufacturer, has adopted 3D printing towards getting a more advanced and aerodynamically viable design which was evident in their new release, the 2020 Shelby GT500. In another example, Porsche is reported to manufacture spare parts for their classic car models. General Motors and Boeing are also adopting the additive manufacturing techniques for designing and customising their jet parts and streamline new models.These breakthrough innovations are a sure reason for why to adopt the 3D printers for the automobile/ aerospace industry. Here are some more reasons in which Additive Manufacturing(AM) benefits the automobile/ aerospace industry.
- Control weight fluctuations: 3D printers are capable of providing flexibility in terms of vehicles’ weight. They can use a range of new and advanced composites and polymers for production. With new inventions, the industry is using more lightweight and durable polymers and metals for chassis and body parts.
- Design complex geometries: 3D printing also allows you to design a more streamlined and durable design. Many intricate geometries can be modelled through CAD software and tested via 3D prototyping.
- Offers heat deflection minimums: AM process can help in building and testing materials that can withstand high temperature, which is used in engine compartments. It can help in getting heat deflection minimums.
- Parts consolidation: Consolidating many parts that are used in the assembly line to build a complex model can help in saving costs and testing’ prototyping time. It also reduces inventory to save storage space.
With these numerous benefits in automotives manufacturing, the cost and human resource factor also come in the background. AM is generally considered to be a much better manufacturing option as it is cost-efficient and requires low workforce capacity. Due to complete automation, less number of workforce is required in assembly lines along with reduced checking platforms. Hence, it improves the overall quality assurance and gives a much better designed and efficient final product.
The automobile/ aerospace industry uses 3D printing in manufacturing and modelling various parts and systems. Let’s have a brief look at that.
- Prototyping: Rapid prototyping is one of the greatest benefits that industry gets from AM as it can design and produce small to high scale models. It’s easy to get a small model like wing mirrors to a large scale product like a fully customised dashboard for vehicles using the 3D printers. These rapid prototypes are helpful in early testing and validation, which saves time in overall manufacturing to bring a product in the marketplace.
- Design and fitment testing: CAD tools can get you accurate dimensions for products and could also be used for making exact grooves and fitments in the models. The design and fitment in automobiles can be tested through the prototyping models and can be used for bulk production.
- Functional parts: All the small to mid-sized functional parts that are used in vehicles/ jets can be made through 3D printers. The CAD software is also used to make more viable parts like transmission, shock absorbers using new and advanced metals/ polymers for giving rich experience.
- Concept Models: CAD & AM are simultaneously used to design and test new technologies through the concept of vehicle models. Concept models are a popular way to garner market for the automobile/ aerospace company as it enables the market to speculate the release, which results in increased market prices.
- Spare parts: Build smooth and accurate spare parts in large volumes to ramp up your production requirements. Moreover, it can be built on demand to save storage and costs. Mass customisation is a great feature that you can achieve with 3D printing of spare parts.
- Jigs & Fixtures: These tools facilitate production and help scale up volumes quickly. AM helps in manufacturing exact copies of jigs and fixtures whenever required. In high market times like festivals, the demand grows up, and so does the burden of manufacturing. To meet the increased demands, there is a need for more jigs and fixtures to be produced in a short time. 3D printers are one of the most economical and time-saving ways to get this job done.
Many big companies like BMW, Mercedes Trucks, Boeing, General Motors are continuously showing their trust in the 3D printing facilities and its bright future. With the coming time more developed AM tools are going to be designed, which would be enough to disrupt the automobile and aerospace sectors through their amazing features.