Industrial-grade 3D printing technology has actually been applied very early and quite common in the automotive industry. Especially in industrial design, 3D printing has always enjoyed an irreplaceable and important position. However, with the continuous development of technology, 3D printing is also breaking through the rules little by little. Pure industrial design has restricted technological breakthroughs. As a result, automakers are introducing 3D printing into the manufacturing field in an all-round way, not just the product design link, so as to make the entire manufacturing chain more efficient and flexible.
Recently, Divergent Microfactories (DM) from San Francisco, USA launched the world’s first 3D printed super sports car “Blade”. The company stated that this car is made up of a series of aluminum “nodes” and carbon fiber pipes, which can be easily assembled into a car chassis, so it is more environmentally friendly.
In terms of mass production cars, PSA Peugeot Citron (hereinafter referred to as the group) recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement with 3D printing company Divergent in Los Angeles to reach a cooperation intention in metal material printing and other aspects. The cooperation content includes the research and development of 3D printed metal covering parts for the vehicle production line of Peugeot Citroen, in order to realize the lightweight structure of the whole vehicle and reduce its production cost.
Although 3D printing technology has been applied to the manufacture of metal parts and plastic parts from the aerospace industry to the medical device industry, the automotive manufacturing process requires a higher degree of refinement, so the production practice may be more complicated than expected. In addition, Ford Motor is already deploying 3D printing manufacturing technology.
Lightweight 3D printing is playing with this. With the continuous release of the “Industry 4.0 Concept”, 3D printing, as one of the core of the revolutionary technical support, has been pushed to the cusp of the market again in recent years and has been used in many industries. And the pride of the manufacturing industry-automobile and parts manufacturing is the key promotion area of 3D printing technology. However, lightweighting of automobiles is a long-term trend. In terms of traditional automobiles, lightweighting of automobiles is the only way to save energy and reduce consumption.
3D printing is additive manufacturing. As the name suggests, the workpiece is formed by adding corresponding materials. In the manufacturing process of key automotive parts, 3D printing has a natural lightweight advantage.
In fact, the practical significance of 3D printing is to help companies improve the efficiency of certain links in the process of design or product sample preparation, rather than completely replacing them. It can make the car realize 3D printing body shell, reduce the weight of the body, and make the design more personalized.
Because 3D printing is a direct three-dimensional molding, it has great flexibility in use. The more complex the more complex, the more advantageous it is, such as printing a hollow craft. This feature is naturally also useful when used in automobiles, such as the sliding valve box of an automatic transmission, which can be done with 3D printing technology when the conditions are mature.
Recently, Sculpteo, a well-known French 3D printing service provider, has added a brand-new material to its SLS 3D printing service range-flexible plastic TPU. The company claims that this material is very suitable for 3D printing applications in medical, fashion and other fields, because it is a good choice for 3D printed wearable products.
Sculpteo explained on its website that this powder was specially designed and developed for SLS 3D printing technology, and its hardness level is 65A (Shore hardness), which makes it very elastic and can even produce complex mechanical properties.
Once this material is applied on a large scale, it will have an extremely effective promotion effect on improving the toughness of key parts of the car and reducing weight.
Small problems do not prevent 3D printing from becoming an important reform of the automobile manufacturing industry. Many people believe that 3D printing is a major reason for the bubble. Even though this technology has received support from many countries, including China, the actual development speed has been Very slowly, there are still many technical barriers to be broken. Relatively speaking, 3D printing has lower production efficiency and high manufacturing costs. What’s more worrying is that the parts produced by 3D printing are generally plastic parts, and there is a risk of burning. Many 3D printed cars have built-in steel structural reinforcements.
However, there are not many cars that can truly meet the safety requirements, and many manufacturers have more or less avoided collision safety issues.
Having said that, even if we encounter various problems, this does not prevent 3D printing from becoming a key reform method of the automobile manufacturing industry. The most lacking thing in today’s automobile manufacturing industry is innovation. The accumulation of technology over a century has actually brought about a century of technical barriers, breaking the traditional technical barriers, and improving the old-fashioned manufacturing methods instead of completely replacing them. This is what 3D printing can do. Realistic task.
It is the wish of all car industry practitioners to make future cars more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and make the production process more convenient. Some critics believe that 3D printing will pose a revolutionary threat to traditional automobile manufacturing, but no matter what, its appearance has made cars have unlimited possibilities and injected a “crazy” factor into the automotive industry.
Therefore, it is the true meaning of this technology to introduce innovation into the manufacturing industry in order to find a more reasonable and economical manufacturing model.
It is neither a bubble, but it is an exaggeration to say that it can cause a new technological revolution.
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