- The Automotive industry uses 3D printing in a number of applications.
- Prototypes, spare parts, racing parts and car parts are being manufactured.
The automotive industry has been one of the key industries to adopt 3D printing. In automotive 3D printing is being used in prototypes, concept cars, unique cars, motorsports and now is beginning to be used in manufacturing. Automotive companies were one of the first customers for 3D printing companies and have adopted a number of technologies including FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling, also called FFF and material extrusion), Powder Bed Fusion (also called SLM, DMLS, LS, ALM), Stereolithography (SLA, vat polymerization) and binder jetting.
Automotive companies first used 3D printing in prototyping. Visual prototypes were made of concept cars or parts. Later on form and fit testing with 3D printed prototypes is done. 3D printing provided car manufacturers with a relatively quick method by which to make unique parts cost effectively. Concept car interiors are an example of one off affairs that would be cost prohibitive to make with another technology. For these types of parts Stereolithography is usually used. The parts are 3D printed, hand finished and then coated or painted. Objet Polyjet, a technology that uses an inkjet head to print a photopolymer, is also used for visual prototypes and to test individual car parts. Selective Laser Sintering (LS, powder bed fusion) is also used to make form and fit parts such as interiors for testing and evaluation.
A concept car dashboard being printed on a Materialise Mammoth stereolithography machine.