The automotive industry is one of the most primed areas to experience the technological benefits of additive manufacturing. Advances in the overall capability of 3D printing and the additive industry over the last decade have transformed the ways in which cars are designed, developed, and manufactured.
The automotive 3D printing market is growing as a result. A report from Allied Market Research states that the industry is likely to reach $2.73 Billion by 2023. That’s coupled with a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 20% (19.7) from 2017 to 2023.
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This financial data underscores the significance and potential of the automotive 3D printing industry and demonstrates additive’s sheer potential to innovate. Notably, 3D printing allows automotive engineers and designers easier prototyping and tooling, research, and development, and quickens the product innovation cycle.
However, 3D printing still has its drawbacks, such as scalability, cost, and available materials. With these problems rapidly being addressed, there’s hope that further industry use will be garnered in the years to come. As we survey the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry within automotive, let’s take a look at the most recent developments in the field.
Local Motors, an innovative vehicle manufacturer in Arizona, recently installed a composite 3D printer for use in one of their microfactories. The printer, a Thermwood LSAM, is considered to be the largest in the world, spanning 10 ft by 40 ft. Local Motors is using this massive 3D printer to create components for its Olli autonomous 3D printed bus. You can see a video of this bus below.
In June, Audi announced that they adopted Stratasys 3D printing technologies to produce automotive parts. They are now using the Stratasys J750 full-color, multi-material printer to create fully colored automotive parts to reduce prototyping and design times. This allows Audi to rapidly verify each design concept and move forward in their workflows. By Audi’s own admission, they’ve been able to achieve a 50% reduction in production time for certain parts. It’s this process of validation and customization that 3D printing technologies fit so nicely into within the automotive realm.
Lastly, a company by the name of AMFG launched a new software platform coupled with AI to aid in manufacturers’ adoption of 3D printing tools. AMFG is a leader in industrial 3D printing tools, and their new package will help OEMs with automation, printability analyses, and post-processing concerns.
The realm of automotive additive manufacturing is constantly innovating. New tools useful to manufacturers are seemingly appearing out of thin air. The days of automotive future are and will be further defined by the capabilities offered within additive manufacturing.