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The three main advantages of 3D printing in the automotive industry

3D printing is an innovative and versatile technique for creating prototypes and scale models of parts and also end-use products for the automotive sector, among others

Mobility & Transportation 23.11.2022

Invented in the mid-1980s, it has since undergone significant advancements. The first industries to apply 3D printing to their processes were the aeronautic and the automotive sectors.

For example, Boeing debuted with 3D printed titanium parts for the 787 Dreamliner, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, in 2017;

Today, however, in the automotive industry, 3D printing still remains in its beginning stages as it is not used for mass production, but rather for rapid-prototyping, tooling and pre- or small series.

Additive manufacturing typically referred to as 3D printing, is the process of creating an object by building one layer at the time. This is the opposite of the traditional subtractive approach, where an object is created by cutting away from a solid block of material until the final product is complete.

 Three main advantages

Here, we have gathered three main points that we believe make it worth looking at opportunities related to 3D printing, enabling you to delivering your potential:

  1. It saves you time: Speed of innovation is a major advantage of 3D printing. Traditional molding for prototyping can take several weeks or months whereas with 3D printing you can quickly create, modify and change models all in the same day and thus maximize your productivity of your innovation cycle.
  2. It’s good for the environment: 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process which means you do not remove material. You add materials in layers and only what you need, thus eliminating waste and your impact on the environment.
  3. It gives you freedom of design: Traditional molding and manufacturing techniques are limited in the types of shapes you can create but 3D printing opens up a limitless world of possibilities. Thanks to the use of computer-aided design (CAD) objects can be created without limitation in space (you can create holes, drains, cavities and more) to build customized 3D objects.

What are silicones?
Silicones are inert synthetic compounds that come in a variety of forms (including oilrubber and resin). Typically, heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are present in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications, personal care products, cookware and insulation. Silicones are polymers that contain silicon, combined with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and, in some cases, other elements.

Additive manufacturing/3D printing is a part of industry 4.0, which involves automation and data exchange that will allow digital, connected and distributed manufacturing to become a reality. This allows you, as a manufacturer, to use more efficient and sustainable production methods.

For more information, please also have a look at how silicone materials are used in 3D printing is this video.

Furthermore, with 3D printing you can personalise, or mass customise products in a cost-effective way.

Elkem is ready to support in bringing your design to life, to make you achieve more than you thought possible.