The automotive industry is one of the biggest users of additive manufacturing (AM), aka 3D printing. The Wohlers Report 2018 estimates that the automotive sector accounts for up to 16% of the entire AM market. The technology is popular with automotive OEMs and their suppliers because it accelerates processes and enables breakthrough design innovations. Tooling is not needed, thus reducing lead times, and 3D printing allows the fabrication of parts that would be impossible or unfeasible using conventional techniques. This enables parts consolidation and optimization of weight-to strength ratios, advancing lightweighting goals.
Additive manufacturing is extensively used in design and development, as it allows designers and engineers to quickly manufacture high-quality parts and models to test and validate designs and reduce time to market. Models can be produced quickly and easily offering near instant access to testing and feedback.
Prototyping and preproduction is the biggest current user of 3D printing within the automotive industry. 3D printing of both plastics and metals is increasingly used to produce parts for prototype vehicles and test builds. The parts can be manufactured without expensive tooling, and the materials offer characteristics closely resembling production materials, making them a valid choice for test builds.
Additive manufacturing ...