Request a Demo

3D Printing and the Automotive Industry

Additive manufacturing is transforming the design and development of vehicles

3D printing – also known as additive manufacturing – has become a solid reality. Students across the globe are learning to print objects developed with advanced computer-assisted design software. In fact, it is inching its way towards becoming a regular household activity, after having been studied and adopted by a range of industrial pursuits. In short, it is expected to revolutionise our lives and become what is referred to as the next “trillion-dollar industry.”

The general consensus is that 3D printing was “invented” by Chuck Hull, who was the first to print an object with a “stereo-lithography” device, in 1983. However, 3D printing systems were not patented until three years later in 1986. Over the years, automotive manufacturers have adopted, employed and improved this technology, although it did not gain major prominence in the industry until Formula 1 racing teams grasped the full potential of custom-tailoring car and engine parts.

Over the past 10 years, additive manufacturing technologies have radically changed the design, development and manufacturing of objects. From printing automotive parts and accessories to creating new prototype concepts directly in offices, the opportunities provided by 3D printing are endless. It has enabled the conception of new shapes, allowed for lighter and more complex structures and introduced great savings. Indeed, it is now – at least theoretically – possible to print an entire car from scratch. And this may well be the future of the automotive industry: taking custom orders on-line, 3D printing entire vehicles and delivering them directly to the client.

While, at present, 3D printing is still predominantly used for rapid prototyping purposes, it holds infinite promise for the automotive industry. Plants will be able to expedite the production of individual parts and have greater control over the design and overall development process. If, at any time, the need arises for a new part – or even a part that is not currently in mass production – instructions can be transmitted to a printer in a matter of seconds to start printing the required item.

Clearly, this means that producers will have far greater flexibility than ever before. Automotive producers will be able to develop entire series of customized features, special parts, lightweight structures, unusual shapes, parts made of a number of materials, hollow structures that house wiring, piping and sensors, and the list goes on and on. Indeed, 3D printing allows automotive manufacturers to transform their entire production line in a matter of minutes, if the need arises.

Moreover, another advantage of 3D printing is that it eliminates the need for a great range of suppliers, which translates into savings both in terms of materials and supply chain timing. And 3D printing is ecological, too. Not only does the additive manufacturing process consume far less electricity than traditional manufacturing processes, but it also allows producers to use recyclable materials that concur in lowering gas consumption and fuel emission rates.

So, the question is not if, but when, automotive producers will fully embrace this mature, new and solid technology that holds such great promise at all levels.

Contacts Want to learn how Octo can transform your business?

We are happy to hear from you.
Discover our tailor-made solutions.

Get in touch
a Contributor!
We’re always looking for interesting ideas and content to share within our community.
Get in touch and send your proposal to: