Automotive 3D printing is paving the road to innovation. The technology is already being utilized in different areas of vehicle design. Prototyping for automobiles have been around for some time. Whole design departments rely on 3D prototyping to provide insight into customer satisfaction, mechanical performance, and industrial design. What once may have taken weeks or months to prototype a vehicle’s design or component feature now takes a matter of hours. With automotive 3D printing, design ideas are taken from drawing board to prototype in the same day. This allows engineers to experiment and test new concepts during the production life cycle. 3D printing for the automotive industry liberates engineers and designers; allowing them to take chances with new ideas.
Independent car manufacturers now have a way to produce their own car part prototypes with 3D printing. In 2011, Urbee was created as the first automobile to use 3D printing for both the manufacturing and prototyping of its car body. Urbee is a hybrid, three-wheeled, rear-engine automobile that fuses vehicle prototyping with environmentally conscious design.
Various companies are embracing auto 3D printing due to the reduction in tool costs. GP Roadster from Belgium saved weeks in development time by 3D printing automotive prototype parts. What once was a very expensive handmade process to produce molds was reduced to a matter of days using a Voxeljet VX1000. Ford Motor Company uses it for engine part prototypes allowing various iterations of auto parts to be created at the same time. Meanwhile, Tesla Motors has embraced 3D printing by allowing users to create or design their own dashboard accessories.
Automotive 3D printing is not just for cars – motorcycles have also become popular. The TV stars of Orange County Choppers builds custom motorcycles featured on the American Chopper reality show. Using a Fortus 400mc, prototyping is simply a matter of sending design files straight to the 3D printer. Prior to this, Orange County Choppers did most of their 3D prototyping using machined aluminum or high density foam – expensive and time consuming.
From a marketing front, auto 3D printing is also a way to draw buyers to a company’s brand. For example, in 2014 Honda recently unveiled, an archive of Honda prototype designs which users can download and create from home. Giving users the power to create mini-automotive prototypes gives marketers a medium to express their company’s brand identity. Porsche is also getting involved in automotive 3D printing by offering a new online Car Configurator to customers. The car configurator lets users choose the model, colors, and options for your own dream Porsche. As a bonus, you can download a 3D printable Porsche Cayman toy model.
The possibilities for automotive 3D printing are endless. Whether its automotive prototyping, manufacturing auto parts, or simply strengthening brands, automotive 3D printing is being embraced by large corporations as well as startups. 3D printed car parts give hobbyists and professionals alike the ability to expand horizons, push their imagination, and even start a new business venture.
We offer a wide array of products and services geared toward automotive 3D printing. We look forward to assisting you on selecting a 3D printer that will help you start a new auto business, prototype your next vehicle accessory, or simply enjoy the hobby. We’ve established long term relationships with our partners and can acquire units for various automotive applications. For more information on purchasing a unit for automotive 3D printing, please contact us.