Could the Switch to Electric Vehicles Spur the Use of 3D Printing in the Auto Industry?

Electric vehicles are making headlines as the next game-changers in the automotive scene when it comes to sustainability. Why shouldn’t it be? For a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable environment, electric vehicles are the way forward! The auto industry has indeed been redefined by new-age mobility solutions that necessitate ingenious innovations to deliver the distinctive experiences that customers seek.

The OEMs are being compelled to quickly incorporate breakthrough technology into more inexpensive EV-centric portfolios by the increased emphasis on decreasing emissions and the restriction on new gas-powered cars entering the market. Going by the recent forecasts from the Edison Electric Institute, EV models are expected to expand 3 times by 2023, and annual electric vehicle sales are expected to exceed 3.5 million during the next decade.

An Electronic Car is plugged in the charger at a public place
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Additive manufacturing, often known as industrial 3D printing, is quickly becoming one of the most potent technologies for automakers looking to assist EV production in making stronger, lighter, and better-performing vehicles. Top automakers are incorporating 3D printing technology into their manufacturing processes to create high-quality vehicle parts and accessories and gain a competitive edge in the industry.

How Industrial 3D Printing Is Transforming the Production of Electric Vehicles?

While it is tempting to muse over a fully 3D printed car, it is becoming a reality thanks to remarkable progress in 3D printing materials and processes, which has sparked a surge in interest in automotive advances. Previously, 3D printing in auto manufacturing was restricted to the creation of functional prototypes. However, as time has passed, the scope of this technology has broadened to include structural design optimization, the development of end-user part applications, and the manufacture of complicated vehicle parts. Prepare to be amazed as you learn how 3D printing is all set to revolutionize the EV production segment.

A Rim of Electronic Car is Printed with 3D Printing
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1. Getting the Product Design Process Moving More Quickly

Every new vehicle begins with prototyping, but if done the traditional way, it can be a time-consuming and overly expensive process. 3D printing software has changed the product development process, allowing OEMs to create a high-fidelity and representative prototype of a physical part, whether it’s a basic interior element, a dashboard, or even a scale model of the entire automobile, within a short span of time. Automakers can produce extremely detailed, accurate, and smooth full-scale parts utilizing 3D printing, which are necessary for introducing fresh concepts and designs, as well as performance verification and debugging. Furthermore, desktop 3D printers enable engineering and design teams to improve their overall product development flows by increasing iteration cycles. As a result, 3D printing in the automotive sector can save production time and costs while also resulting in lighter and cleaner designs.

2. Optimized Manufacturing Aids

Engineers use production aids to make manufacturing and assembly processes more straightforward and dependable, with the added benefit of shorter cycle times and increased worker safety. When compared to outsourcing parts from an external vendor, the optimized product designs developed through 3D printing technology perform more efficiently, shortening lead time to a few hours while saving extra costs. Manufacturers can also benefit from better ergonomic tools thanks to 3D printing, which can help reduce the strain on assembly workers. One of the most significant advantages of 3D printing in auto manufacturing is the creation of lighter end parts for vehicles that consume less fuel while preserving or improving their functionality. With better weight distribution on the axles, lighter sections of the electric vehicle aid to lengthen battery life. Engineers can design end products more easily with industrial 3D printing because design freedom is unrestricted. Part simplification is also possible with additive manufacturing, as several parts can be consolidated into a single design, reducing or eliminating the requirement for assembly.

3. Development of High-Performance and Complex Components

Manufacturers can use 3D printers to create low-volume, bespoke production components on demand without having to pay a lot of money or wait a long time. Additionally, 3D printers’ precision and reliability enable designers to meet objectives with consistent yields but without production tooling. In some ways, digital manufacturing gives automakers a whole new set of capabilities in terms of what they can offer their customers. Small businesses who place a premium on “custom” have found that 3D printed components have allowed them to expand their creativity and increase quality without having to worry about the high costs and time-consuming manufacturing processes that come with modification. By integrating digital production processes with traditional ways, luxury EV manufacturing brands can alter parts and provide clients with a one-of-a-kind experience. Top EV manufacturers employ superior metal 3D printing technology to create sophisticated elements such as side door handles, exhausts, and air vents that aren’t available in their current production models. In addition, industrial 3D printing allows for the creation of auto parts that would otherwise be impossible to manufacture.

4. Improved Thermal Capabilities and Expanded Material Options

The improved thermal capabilities of 3D printing could be a game-changer for EV production, as regulating the temperature of batteries can be difficult at times. Encasings made with 3D printing can also help manage temperature and give a great performance while requiring minimal machine work and a short development cycle.

5. Solving the Spare Parts Issue

The automotive industry’s demand for spare parts is frequent and erratic, making their value a contentious financial decision in some cases. Manufacturers can use 3D printing to develop all the parts that can be retained as digital copies, minimizing the need for outmoded stock. A spare part might theoretically be generated in-store at the customer’s request, allowing for easy access to 3D-printed automotive parts and spare parts. When it comes to storing replacement parts, 3D printing can help businesses better integrate the physical supply chain with a digital one and avoid the costs of storage and inventory.

The Way Ahead

As the demand for electric vehicles grows, so will the demand for electronic devices, necessitating a higher need for designing and manufacturing more sophisticated electronics. The rising demand for better-performing and environmentally friendly automobiles will increase the need to optimize supply chains and operations, necessitating the adoption of 3D printing by automakers to stay ahead of their competition.

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