The 3D printing of parts in industry has made tremendous strides over the last couple of years and the Automotive Industry has made a very concentrated effort to incorporate 3D printing into the construction of new cars with the benefit of not only enormous cost savings but the ability to be responsive to any changes that in a part that may need to be made.
Ultimaker is a 3D company which manufactures 3D printers which Volkswagen uses. They use the Ultimaker 2+ and 3. Last year they printed thousands of parts to save costs and it can now be said that additive printing is now mainstream.
The required parts can be developed in-house by Volkswagen so that the lead time is reduced and there are easy opportunities to adjust the parts as needed.
93% of what was sourced externally is now produced in-house.
The savings in 2016 was $160,000 and in 2017 the projected savings is to be $200,000.
It is not only Volkswagen that is using 3D printing. Eventuri which manufactures auto intake systems is working with BMW, Honda and Jaguar also can make speedy adjustments as the designers develop and make changes as the project develops.
Some of the reasons 3D printing has been successful in the Automotive industry is that:
- 3D printing significantly reduces the development time from months to days.
- It is easy to test new ideas without there being extra costs involved.
- It is easy to personalise and adjust parts within a few hours again with no additional costs involved.
- Engineers can discuss a design with colleagues and quickly test the market potential.
- You can confirm a design without investing in expensive molding tools.
These five points where actually what we saw when 3D printing was first used to make prototypes but the same principles are at the heart of the manufacturing process.
Ultimaker.com. (2017). 3D Printing In Automotive. [online] Available at: https://www.ultimaker.com/en/explore/where-is-3d-printing-used/automotive [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].
Anderson Goehrke, S. (2017). Desktop 3D Printing on the Automotive Assembly Line — A Few Questions For: Volkswagen Autoeuropa. [online] 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing. Available at: https://3dprint.com/178994/volkswagen-autoeuropa-ultimaker/ [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].
Dignan, L. (2017). Volkswagen Autoeuropa Nets Parts Savings With Ultimaker 3D Printers | ZDNet. [online] ZDNet. Available at: http://www.zdnet.com/article/volkswagen-autoeruopa-nets-parts-savings-with-ultimaker-3d-printers/ [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].
Molitch-Hou, M. (2017). Eventuri Leverages Ultimaker for Prototyping Auto Parts. [online] Engineering.com. Available at: http://www.engineering.com/PLMERP/ArticleID/12600/Eventuri-Leverages-Ultimaker-for-Prototyping-Auto-Parts.aspx [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].
Ultimaker (2017). Volkswagen Autoeuropa: 3D Printed Tools, Jigs And Fixtures – Ultimaker: 3D Printing Story. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9_vIulHyfg [Accessed 9 Aug. 2017].