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Enumerating the role of 3D printing in automotive market: How the technology is changing the face of automobile manufacturing & prototyping

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Additive manufacturing technologies over the past years have made a strong case in product innovation and 3D printing in automotive market, in particular, has significantly transformed the potential ways in which products are designed, manufactured, and distributed. The additive manufacturing techniques have also opened doors for lighter, cleaner, and more safe products with comparatively lower cost and shorter lead time. Quite overtly, these physiognomies have paved a lucrative way for the commercialization matrix of automotive 3D printing market, which has already chronicled its name in the coveted billion-dollar fraternity in 2017. According to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the global 3D printing in automotive market was estimated at over USD 1.4 billion in 2017, while registering annual sales of 3D printers over 110 thousand units.

U.S. 3D Printing in Automotive Market Revenue, By Component
U.S. 3D Printing in Automotive Market Revenue, By Component

Given the proliferating 3D printers sale in the automotive sector, it has been identified that accelerating production is the highest priority the auto companies are relying on 3D printing for, climbing from 29% in 2017 to 39% in 2018. Auto manufacturers are increasingly relying on 3D printing to streamline and expand their possibilities of mass customization, build-to-order product strategies, and in increasing the production flexibility and sales.

The role of 3D printing in driving competitiveness

According to a report by Forbes, over 93% of companies in 2018 are using 3D printing and are gaining competitive advantages such as reduced time-to-market and flexible shorter production runs for potential customers. The technological advancements in 3D metal materials have further led this business sphere to depict a profound growth. Estimates claim that over 36% of the companies are using metal material for 3D printing in 2018, a considerably upswing from 28% in 2017. The data signifies the greater adoption of 3D printers for production operations, which in turn is propelling automotive 3D printing market growth.

While there is no doubt that additive manufacturing has taken the automotive industry by storm, it would to interesting to take note of some industry magnates who are leveraging the technical trajectory of AM in driving their revenue growth. Enumerated below are few recent instances that shed light on the increasing adoption of 3D printing in automotive industry.

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Volkswagen is using 3D printing for mass production

Automotive industry behemoth Volkswagen has recently announced that it will be using the latest 3D printing technology for manufacturing different auto parts. The company will be using the technology with the HP Metal Jet process that is expected to simplify and speed up the metallic 3D printing. According to reports, a Volkswagen vehicle is manufactured from around 6000 to 8000 different parts and 3D printing has helped immensely in mass production of these parts.

Volkswagen with HP and GKN, is further planning to take the technology to next level that could be able to produce individualized design parts including gear knobs, tailgate lettering, and special keys with personalized lettering without a great deal of effort. Significantly reducing the time required for manufacturing parts and assisting in production of mass quantities, the automotive 3D printing market demand is expected to thrive several notches up in the ensuing years.

Nanosteel unveils Formetrix, aids commercialization of metal 3D printing

An advanced materials company, Nanosteel has recently unveiled that it has launched an enterprise focusing chiefly on materials for additive manufacturing. The new corporation, dubbed as the Formetrix, is expected to further the commercialization of 3D printing metals and as well offer on-demand production services. It has been reported that Nanosteel will be supporting two areas – steel powders and sheet steel for automotive lightweighting for 3D printing. This has grabbed the attention of several automotive 3D printing industry players for investment & development of their metal auto parts. Besides the automotive 3D printing industry, the company will be playing a key role in additive manufacturing components of the oil & gas, construction, and heavy machinery markets.

Audi accelerates automotive design with Stratasys 3D printing

This German auto maker has recently announced that it has adopted the Stratasys’ J750 full-color and multi-material 3D printer for accelerating the design verification process and reducing the time required for prototyping. Leveraging the additive manufacturing technology, Audi claims that it has accomplished prototyping lead time cuts by as much as 50% for some parts. According to reliable reports, prototyping & tooling application accounted for 60% of automotive 3D printing industry share in 2017, and Audi’s adoption of Stratasys 3D printing bears testimony to the rapid expansion of this segment.

With increasing number of big-name manufacturers embracing 3D printing in automotive industry, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this technology has come a long way and has the power to influence the direction in which auto design sector will head in future. Considering the sheer size of the global automotive industry, 3D printing is all set to be a game-changer in shaping automotive design and manufacturing trends. Soon to become an integral part, 3D printing in automotive market is poised to further unlock tremendous innovation potential and gather a remuneration portfolio exceeding USD 8 billion by 2024.

Author NameOjaswita Kutepatil