Ever since the first motorcar ran on a rutted road in 1886, the car industry has come a long way. The industry has seen several revolutionary changes down the years, none of which is probably as advanced as using 3D printing methods. As automobile manufacturers have been on the lookout for new and efficient methods to manufacture car parts, 3D printing has come to their rescue with its incredibly detailed and precise casting abilities. Many industry experts believe fervently that fused filament fabrication is the way for auto-makers to make cars stronger, better performing, stylish and more comfortable.
According to several industrial studies, 3D printing in the global automotive sector is set to reach an estimated US$ 2.5 billion by 2023. Some studies have also shown that the 3D fused filament fabrication method is the top choice for major automotive manufacturers worldwide.
Applications of FFF 3D Printing in Automotive Sector
Let’s check out the top applications of FFF 3D printing in the global automotive industry:
1 – Prototyping / Validating New Parts
Car-makers have started using FFF 3D printing technology to check the shape and fit of their car parts and also to validate their vehicle or spare part prototypes. Fused filament fabrication technique is the preferred method to create full-sized, fully functional prototypes. However, car-makers should know that different types of 3D printing techniques are required to make different prototypes. For example, while 3D printing with fused filament fabrication technique may be ideal to test rear-view mirror prototypes, the parts which are functional and need to be stronger of with smoother finishes need to be created using other 3D printing technologies, such as resin and powder-based technique.
2 – Manufacturing Tools
Making manufacturing tools is probably the 2nd most popular use of FFF 3D printing technique in the automotive industry. This technique has been found extremely efficient in creating precise manufacturing aids, such as fixtures and jigs. Making manufacturing tools with conventional method is expensive and often time-consuming. However, by using fused filament fabrication 3D printing technique, automobile makers have been able to break the limits of precision and craftsmanship of conventional tool-making methods.
As FFF 3D printing tools are lightweight and more ergonomic, this helps to not only enhance production efficiency but also ensures added security for factory workers too.
3 – Creating Original Parts
Apart from being an incredible asset in prototyping validation and testing, the FFF 3D printing method is also being increasingly adapted for use in manufacturing original auto parts. Auto-makers whose production volume is limited to a few thousands units find fused filament fabrication technique incredibly efficient and affordable alternative to conventional manufacturing methods.
Leading luxury auto-makers, including Rolls Royce, BMW, Ferrari, etc. have started integrating FFF 3D printing technology into their parts-manufacturing process.
The fused filament fabrication technique has become a boon for the automobile industry. Seeing the increasing adaptation to this advanced manufacturing technology, we can expect to see a completely 3D printed car rolling out of the assembly line in the near future.