Is 3D printing reinventing the automotive assembly line? (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 78)

Henry Ford was the first to envision a streamlined way of bringing quality automobiles to market. The idea behind his revolutionary vision was that technology enabled his workers to optimize their activities. That philosophy is still alive and well in the automotive industry and now, thanks to 3D printing, it’s experiencing a renewed sense of discovery. Currently, companies like Audi and GM are employing 3D printing to help speed up the design and prototyping cycle cutting lead times by more than 50% and saving over $300K on tooling. The bravest (or those with the most resources) are pushing 3D printing towards new applications and wild concepts for the cars of the future.

General Motors Saves $300,000 By Switching To 3D Printed Tooling

Zane Meike holds sample 3D printed tool at the Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan. Photo by Michael Wayland/Automotive News

The Lansing Delta Township assembly plant of American multinational vehicle manufacturer General Motors has reported an expected cost saving of over $300,000 since it acquired a 3D printer three years ago. Driving forward its 3D printing efforts, the plant eventually expects to create annual cost savings in the millions of dollars.

Read the full article here.

Shanghai Commits To Divergent 3D Printed Electric Vehicle Production

The Divergent 3D node-based additive manufacturing technology, used to make the Blade supercar, is to be the driver of a new electric vehicle (EV) production plant in Shanghai.

“The EV market in China is at an inflection point, with unparalleled growth in demand and government policy stimulus,” says Eric Ho King-fung, chairman of We Solutions in an article for the South China Morning Post.

Check out the rest of the article here.

MIT’s 3D-printed inflatables could shape the interiors of cars in the future

Car interiors could morph into different configurations at the flick of a switch, using 3D-printed inflatable structures developed by researchers at the MIT. The Self-Assembly Lab at MIT worked with BMW on the project, called Liquid Printed Pneumatics. The result is a stretchy, inflatable silicone prototype that can take on a number of different shapes depending on the level of air pressure inside. If turned into a car seat, it could quickly be tuned to different positions, or levels of springiness depending on user preference.

Read the rest at Dezeen.

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New design thinking is helping AM reach new heights (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 75)

AM is a fantastic piece of technology, but sometimes it can only go as far as the design behind it. That’s why, following the rise and promise of 3D printing techniques, new ways of designing by means of CAD and reasoning have been born, and they help boost the capabilities of AM in a number of ways. Take General Motors for example: through a technique called generative design, they are able to procedurally build the volume of a part to better address its functions and operational stresses, while at the same time saving precious weight. In other cases, new materials and design possibilities come together to enable unprecedented applications like, for example, a customized inflatable for future car interiors. With this kind of thinking, we start to see how this new wave of design methodologies is enabling AM processes to actually work. The 3D printed bridges and houses that we often hear about wouldn’t be much of a revolution by 3D printing alone, if not for a smart and optimized design that can make it work and excel.

GM and Autodesk Using Additive Manufacturing for Lighter Vehicles

GM is using Autodesk’s generative design technology and additive manufacturing to fabricate lighter automotive parts; this seat bracket is 40% lighter and 20% stronger than its predecessor. […] It uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple permutations of a part design; it can generate hundreds of high-performance, often organic-looking geometric design options based on goals and parameters set by the user.

Read the full article here.

MIT’s 3D-printed inflatables could shape the interiors of cars in the future

Car interiors could morph into different configurations at the flick of a switch, using 3D-printed inflatable structures developed by researchers at the MIT. The Self-Assembly Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) worked with BMW on the project, called Liquid Printed Pneumatics. The German auto brand wanted to see how the lab’s experimental engineering techniques could help it realize some of the shapeshifting features imagined in its futuristic concept cars.

Keep reading at Dezeen.

Additive Construction: From the 3D-Printed House to the 3D-Printed High-Rise

AM has begun to affect nearly every industry, from healthcare to aerospace, making it possible to create unique geometries with unique properties. One industry where 3D printing’s impact is at an even more nascent stage in construction. There are firms and research groups exploring the use of 3D printing as a building technology, but additive construction is still so young that its exact purpose and benefits remain speculative and unclear. Why, other than for sheer novelty, squeeze concrete out of a nozzle to fabricate a building when you can rely on traditional methods?

Read the full article here.

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How large companies are (or plan to) leverage AM (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 74)

Big companies are the first to experiment and get to know the features of new technologies. Their job is to stay on top of the competition and new manufacturing techniques like AM are bringing new possibilities. However, part of the process is recognizing where the technology would be most beneficial. Right now, AM is being actively employed for prototyping and iterating the design of entirely new types of parts. Ford, for example, is experimenting with large-format 3D printing to bring to its car manufacturing. For other companies, where the runs are small and often full of complex parts, AM is a real game-changer. Airbus has been 3D printing panels for its A350 XWB model airplane, saving weight and money. Even though the dream of bringing AM to mass manufacturing plants is still a ways off, progress is being made to make it a reality. Adidas is testing the fast, production-level 3D printer from Carbon to produce as many as 100’000 AM-enabled shoe pairs by the year’s end.

3D printing: Ford pilot project goes large

The automaker is running a project with Stratasys, a manufacturer of additive manufacturing systems based in Eden Prairie, Minn., that’s testing the production of big, single-piece units as prototypes, auto parts and components. Ford recognizes the Stratasys system as a potentially more efficient and affordable way to create tooling, prototype parts, make components for low-volume vehicles (such as performance cars) and produce personalized car parts.

Read more at Plant.ca

Airbus saves 15% in material weight due to 3D printing

The European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has been working with Materialise’s Certified Additive Manufacturing for two, creating plastic parts for aircraft through 3D printing. The manufacturer has noted the benefits of 3D printing for small batch production, enabling more customization whilst being time and cost-effective.

Read the full article here.

How Adidas Plans To Bring 3D Printing To The Masses

Adidas is not only planning to introduce by the end of this year 100,000 pairs of shoes with plastic midsoles made via a new 3D technology created by Silicon Valley startup Carbon; it’s also making moves to ramp up that production to millions in the coming years, said James Carnes, vice president of strategy creation for Adidas’s namesake brand.

“We have a really aggressive plan to scale this,” Carnes said in an interview. “We are scaling a production. The plan will put us as the (world’s) biggest producer of 3D-printed products.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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Safety and reliability of metal AM parts (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 60)

3D printed metal parts are already being employed in very real world situations, from aircraft engine parts to wind turbines. In order to be applicable for these high stress scenarios, metal parts need to comply with very stringent performance standards. 3D printed brakes have been deemed suitable for a Bugatti Chiron, the most powerful super car in the company’s history. You can bet they’ve made their homework prior to putting their whole line of $3M cars on the line. Hydraulic parts manufacturers are utilizing AM to produce components faster and more efficiently than ever before, capable maintaining peak performance in highly pressurized applications. The research is still ongoing, especially in the material sciences. Scientists at the University of Kassel have been able to use AM with a particularly strong steel alloy, which will greatly enhance the safety and reliability of metal parts.

SLM Solutions Metal 3D Printing Brakes The Most Powerful Car In Bugatti History

Bugatti's

[…] 3D printing is implemented for next generation development of the Bugatti Chiron – a car with a price tag close to $3 million. Measuring 41 cm x 21 cm x 13.6 cm (L x W x H) the part claims, by volume, to be “the largest functional component” 3D printed out of titanium. It is also 2 kg lighter than its 4.9 kg machined aluminum counterpart.

“Technically, this is an extremely impressive brake caliper, and it also looks great.” – Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies in Technical Development at Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.

Read the full story here.

Aidro Uses Metal 3D Printing to Improve Hydraulic Components

Aidro was founded in 1982 by hydraulics engineer Paolo Tirelli. Today, they use metal 3D printing for making custom designs with complex geometries, lightweight parts, and rapid prototyping.

“With good design methods, we can 3D print a hydraulic manifold that can withstand pressure peaks in the system without any problems,” says Alberto Tacconelli, Managing Director. “We can increase the wall thickness and change the shapes of the channels where the FEM analysis indicates a potential failure.”

Read about in-depth examples at 3DPrint.

EBM 3D Printing Process Used to Process a Steel Alloy with High Damage Tolerance

For the first time, a research team at the University of Kassel in Germany has used additive manufacturing to process a steel alloy with extremely high damage tolerance, which will help in promoting safety and reliability of 3D printed metal parts. […] This type of alloy, thanks to its special deformation mechanisms, holds up very well, and the heat from the EBM process helps to avoid any unpredictable material properties, resulting in a significantly better inner material structure that protects against possible damage.

Read more about it here.

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Governments Driving AM (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 10)

Hi everyone, here we go for another weekly News-In-Review!

This week we highlight, through our selected news, how AM is bringing the wind of change to countries’ industrial planning and policies and how its inclusion has driven economic growth. Through wise policy making and good support investments, countries like South Africa and England and enabling the creation of business ecosystems, both startups and well-established realities. Germany is already harvesting the fruits of long standing AM companies, with innovation driven partnerships in the automotive industry and beyond.

Here’s to more international effort to get into AM!

Let’s dig in.

UK publishes Digital Strategy outlining plans for Makerspaces, IP protection for 3D printing, and internationally connected Tech Hubs

Westminster, including London's Houses of Parliament. Photo by Ged Carroll, on Flickr as renaissancechambara

The UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport has released a Digital Strategy for economic, educational and infrastructural growth of the nation. The policy follows a seven prong plan touching on the concepts of Makerspaces, FabLabs, 3D imaging, intellectual property for 3D printing, and growing international Tech Hubs. In February 2017, London Mayor Sadiq Khan also announced plans for a hub of industry in East London. As part of a total regeneration of the area, Silvertown is expected to feature the largest 3D printing facility in the UK.

Read more here.

South Africa in talks with Airbus, Boeing to print 3D parts

An Airbus A400M military aircraft. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Officially launched in 2011 and backed by government, the Aeroswift research project last year produced its first three demonstrator parts – a pilot’s throttle lever, a condition lever grip which is part of the throttle assembly, and a fuel tank pylon bracket, in a digital process known as 3D printing, or additive layer manufacturing. […] South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in partnership with local aerospace firm Aerosud Innovation Centre, say access to vast titanium reserves as well as pioneering the world’s largest titanium powder-based 3D printing machine should give them a competitive edge.

Read the full article here.

Five Stories Indicating Auto 3D Printing Is Kicking into High Gear

A 3D-printed water pump wheel for use in a DTM racecar. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)

Although there are numerous stories regarding the use of additive manufacturing (AM) in aerospace, due to the specialty components needed for critical applications, AM is also becoming increasingly prevalent for end part production in auto manufacturing. Below are just five of the big automotive AM stories that demonstrate its potential for auto manufacturing.

Read about the five stories at Engineering.com

 

AERODEF 2017:  We have a session titled ‘Additive Manufacturing from Lab to Production Scale‘ on Thursday 3/9 at 10 am, room 102 at Aerodef. Come see us, we’d love to meet you!

This is it for this week, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back next week for the upcoming edition.