Evolution of Manufacturing: 3D Printed Cars

There are many ways to conceive of cars being in the not too distant future, and this very true when thinking about all the science-fiction films that come out every year. It´s pretty fun and easy to let our imaginations run wild. However, with the advances of 3D printing, we are sure to see novel ideas come to fruition in the world of automotive vehicles. We may have to start to rethink the way we buy these integral machines, in terms of comfort, economy and even safety. Consumers may be able to start to have a real say in the type of car they ultimately buy, and be able to choose from various options in terms of what one wants and really needs. Be it for yourself, your family or even your business, printing for cars is an avenue that is proving to widen with no signs of slowing down.

3D Printed Automobiles: The not so distant future

Signs are pointing to a gradual, yet fairly steady, shift towards better and more reliable automotive products made directly, if only in part, through 3D printing services. It´s early days for sure, but with some time and consumer confidence, 3D printing services are bound to transform the whole industry in a profoundly positive way. This is specially when one considers the improvements that they present over most of the cars we find on the road today.

3D printing services have helped to produce some of the most reliable vehicles money can buy due to the simple fact that printed cars are made to be stronger and often lighter than traditional cars. This technology appears to be ushering in a new age of material use where the race is on for quality and cost effective polymers. The first car to be printed, for instance, was in 2014 by Local Motors and utilized an ABS carbon-fiber blend. Its 80-20 proportions made it stronger and lighter than steel ensuring safer and more fuel efficient travels for its drivers.

As the market stands today, the most feasible options for mass production are partly printed car models. As evidenced by the Japanese Honda Micro-Commuter´s construction, the possibilities that 3D printing can offer us at an affordable rate is primarily through 3D tooling and end-use. This partly printed car represents the stage at which this technology is at at the moment as it just isn´t cost effective to build the entire thing at such an early stage of this technology, as it applies to the current industry.

Honda uses 3D printing technologies to produce thousands of new parts each year.

Thanks to the precise nature of 3D printing, the whole driving experience is on the road to becoming more personalized and custom-made. There may be a new dawn of possibilities, and the world we live in may very well start to resemble the cartoons from our youth. Complete with in-car coffeemakers, coolers and entertainment systems that are as ingenious as their designers. This will lead to a broader expertise and a more and more dynamic driving experience that allows one to truly feel as though what are they are driving is an expression of them and their unique lifestyle. It´s just a matter of time before cars become true reflections of their owners´ desires for care-free comfort, to a degree never really considered in such a way since the times when we culturally contemplated flying or driverless cars. Cars that would make our lives indistinguishable from a surrealist dream.

Jigs and fixtures are an important front where this kind of printing is widening horizons and aiming at making the driving experience more personalized. Ergonomic comfort is up for grabs and we as consumers may be able to initiate more dialogue with car producers to this end. The custom car industry has been thriving for a number of years now, but with the integration of 3D printing service we may see their costs go down and the possibilities rise. It´s business and state-of-the-art ingenuity at its very best.

The truth of the matter is that the biggest hurdle for the comprehensive application of this new technology is simply driving the price down, followed by the considerable length of time required for its production. Thus far, fully printed cars appear rather ordinary, yet they cost considerably more than similar looking models of established companies.

In 2016, SmartTech Publishing said that the revenue from this particular sector of the industry hit 600 million, only penetrating the national automative market by less than 20%.  By 2021, it is estimated to jump to 2.3 billion. So there´s no doubt that it is growing, but at any rate consumer confidence is still yet to be seen.

Some of the biggest purveyors of 3D printed vehicles are interested in what is referred to as re-manufacturing, which is generation of auto parts that quite simply aren´t in the market anymore. Parts can be made from scratch from decades ago that work as well as the originals. This has greatly influenced the belief that this technology will apply to and yield higher-end vehicles.

The relationship between consumer and company may become evermore entwined, open and dialogue-based as one will ideally be able to choose any number of features that can make their particular lives easier and cater to their needs, be they professional or not. For this reason, this technology has every reason to catch on, and when it does we will find ourselves in a better, stronger and more specialized world.