Electric vehicles (EVs) are revolutionizing transportation while also influencing how cars are built. For established manufacturers, EVs represent entirely new product platforms, and in many cases, new companies are bringing them to market. With the manufacturing process starting over after electrification, Additive Manufacturing (AM) might well be capable of meeting production demands.
What makes a difference as an Electric Vehicle?
An electric vehicle, commonly called an EV, is any vehicle that propels itself using an electric motor. Energy sources for EVs include onboard batteries, solar energy, and electric current collectors. Hybrid cars often combine an electric motor with a gas or diesel engine as their second source of power.
Although the automobile industry is at the forefront of the electrification movement, other types of vehicles that transport people or goods also fall under the EV category, including:
- Electric scooters that run on batteries
- Helicopters with electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL);
- Electrical trains and trams;
- Solar-powered automobiles;
- Self-propelled underwater vehicles (AUVs);
- Next-generation electric planes;
- Autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) for passengers or freight;
- Spacecraft with an electric propulsion system; and more.
EV’s challenges can be addressed by AM: Compared to cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs), EVs are often more efficient and emit fewer pollutants; but, their range, the weight of their necessary components, such as batteries, and the amount of time it takes to charge them might be limiting factors.
To address these issues, EV manufacturers can use the design and material capabilities of Additive Manufacturing to develop lighter, more effective, and visually beautiful EVs.
Benefits of AM in EV Manufacturing
Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers have more freedom to stray from the stamping, casting, machining, and injection molding operations used to build conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The capabilities that only additive technology can provide will even be necessary for some of these next-generation transportation solutions.
Using additive manufacturing to manufacture EVs has the following benefits.
- Can produce light-weight components
Components like brackets and connectors can be built using less material because of the combination of 3D printing, generative design, and topology optimization software. A lighter car can accommodate a larger battery, more passengers, or a longer driving range. Weight is a crucial factor for ground vehicles like automobiles and shuttles, but for next-generation electric aircraft, it may be even more critical.
- Utilizing cutting-edge materials
Aluminum, a robust and lightweight material that has recently gained popularity for use in car and truck frames, is compatible with AM. Solutions like carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics, which could be a lighter and possibly more inexpensive substitute for metal parts, are made more accessible by additive manufacturing. Additionally, it is feasible to print materials like lithium cobalt oxide (LCO), which is used in battery electrodes, and copper for motor coils, opening up new possibilities for a vehicle's powertrain.
- Simplifies production process
Complex shapes can be manufactured with 3D printing, typically replacing bulkier assemblies. For instance, a large product can be printed in one piece with a design that is more efficient than a conventional component and requires fewer steps to build. The production of new EVs requires less manual labor and easier assembly due to fewer parts.
- Personalization and customization of products are possible
Key fobs and badges can now be manufactured at a reasonable cost due to 3D printing, offering customers greater control over how their cars look. This allows for the easy adaptation of functional add-ons and optional features to certain EV models or the production of such items solely upon customer request.
- Rapid market entry
Long utilized for car prototypes, 3D printing is increasingly useful for numerous production parts as well. When the final design is complete, an EV manufacturer creating a new vehicle with AM in mind might go directly from prototype to production. Printed tooling used for cutting, stamping, shaping, molding, or casting EV components can offer comparable advantages in terms of speed, geometric possibilities, and functionality, therefore 3D printing does not necessarily have to produce the final production item.
EV Advancement through Additive manufacturing
Partly due to the innovation of these vehicles, additive manufacturing has advanced in the production of EVs, but it will continue to be crucial to their development. The advantages that AM offers will be the sole thing that allows for the development of next-generation cars. Future electric vehicles will drive even further because of 3D printing's ability to create lightweight materials, improved designs, and other things.
Adopting additive manufacturing in the automotive sector has a number of advantages, such as accelerating prototyping, expanding design innovation opportunities, lowering total costs, streamlining the supply chain, using lighter parts (resulting in lower fuel costs), and offering more customization options.
In fact, according to certain business titans, 3D printing in the automobile sector will bring in $9 billion by 2029. For the design and production of their newest vehicles, well-known brands like Audi and Porsche are using 3D printing techniques. The NERA bike, on the other hand, is distinguished by ground-breaking features including an airless tyre, functional integration, and embedded sensor technology. Yet there is no doubt that the introduction of 3D-printed electric motorcycles to the market will change the game.
Innovae3D is a leading manufacturing company offering on-demand 3D Printing service in Pune.
Innovae3D provides comprehensive Metal Additive Manufacturing solutions. We work on 3D printing projects from conception to printing and post-processing, including analysis, development, and design.
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