For the automotive industry, 3D printing has opened doors to creating new designs, making safer, cleaner and lighter, with shorter product delivery and lower costs.

There are two main ways in which the additive manufacturing can be a crucial aspect in competition among automakers and potentially be a distinctive element:

1.Innovación product: Additive manufacturing can produce components with fewer design constraints which often limit the more traditional manufacturing processes. This flexibility is extremely useful allowing the manufacture of products with custom features, so it is possible to add improved features such as integrated electrical wiring (through hollow structures), lower weight (through lattice structures), and complex geometries that they are not possible through traditional processes.

2.Transformación supply chain: By eliminating the need for new tools (tooling) and the ability to directly produce finished parts, manufacturing additive reduces the total production time, improving responsiveness market. Moreover, since usually only uses 3D printing material is required to produce a component, it can dramatically reduce waste and reducing the use of raw materials. In addition, printing lighter components can reduce management costs, while production on demand and geographically close to it, can reduce inventory costs. Finally, the additive manufacturing can support decentralized production of low to medium volume.

3D printing applications in the automotive

Some of the applications of additive manufacturing in the automotive sector:

  • Fluid management: Pumps and printed aluminum alloys with SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) and EBM (Electron Beam Melting) technology valves.
  • Manufacturing process: rapid prototyping, tooling and print customization tools in polymers, wax or special steels. The technologies used for these applications are FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), Inkjet (Binder Jetting), SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) and SLM (Selective Laser Melting).
  • Escape / emissions: Grids printed aluminum alloys with SLM (Selective Laser Melting) cooling technology.
  • Exterior / interior trim: Bumpers and printed windbreaker polymer materials with SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology.

While traditional manufacturing techniques are deeply rooted in the sector and will continue to maintain a dominant position in the automotive industry, additive manufacturing is gaining ground gradually. While the additive manufacturing will not become the only manufacturing technique in the future will, however, an important role in shaping the global automotive landscape.