Cars look completely different from how they used to; recently, a lot of automotive manufacturers have changed the appearances of their cars with the aid of 3D engineering. Some companies in the automotive industry has been utilizing forms of 3D printing since the 1980s as it reduces the amount of labour needed to develop and manufacture cars. Today, more and more automotive manufacturers, such as Ford and GM, are transitioning to rapid prototyping as 3D printing becomes cheaper, faster and more efficient than ever before.
Ford Motors now uses 3D printing to build prototyped cylinder heads for its Ecoboost engines, a process which usually takes 5 months to complete but is now whittled down to 3 months. While Ford doesn't print production parts just yet, one day we are expected to be able to buy 3D plans for replacement parts, which owners can print themselves.
When General Motors designed the new 2014 Chevy Malibu, they also used 3D printing to create cost-effective and time-saving prototypes. Rapid prototyping allows designers and engineers to quickly see and make any changes to teir designs without having to use expensive production tooling, which can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"When you need to get intricate, fully functional prototype parts quickly, nothing beats rapid prototyping," said Todd Pawlik, chief engineer of Chevrolet. "Our ability to rapidly fabricate inexpensive prototype parts throughout a vehicle enables key components to get confirmed earlier so that we can go from computer models to production-caliber parts."
While consumers might not realize the prototyping and development process of their cars, the advantages from prototyping with 3D printing is brought to them. Using rapid prototyping, automotive manufactures are able to develop and improve a more cost-effective and better product.