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How 3D Printing Technology Is Applied In The Auto Parts Industry

In recent years, Chinese auto brands have made great progress. Although it is still difficult to get rid of the limitations of market positioning and technical limitations of product manufacturing, brands seem to have gradually explored their own product routes. Despite this, we are still in the position of a major automobile manufacturing country rather than a powerful automobile country. Among them, the lack of core competitiveness of Chinese auto parts manufacturers may be one of the main reasons.

At present, the production technology and manufacturing standards of my country’s auto parts industry cannot meet most of the requirements of automakers. Almost all core technologies are monopolized by multinational companies. It seems that technological innovation is still far away. And can the 3D printing technology, which has recently been warming up globally and entering the fast lane, bring new changes to the innovation of China’s auto parts?

How 3D Printing Technology Is Applied In The Auto Parts Industry

Concise 3D printing

Nowadays, the hot 3D printing technology is summarized and analyzed by Gartner, the world’s first information technology research and analysis organization, as one of the top ten strategic technology trends in 2014, and is regarded by the British “The Economist” as “together with other digital production models.” Promote the realization of the third industrial revolution”. In the United States, the 3D printing National Innovation Center is planning to establish, and my country is also ushering in the policy dividend. The Ministry of Science and Technology has included 3D printing in the 863 plan and established the world’s first 3D printing industry alliance.

At present, 3D printing products are emerging one after another, involving handicrafts, human organs, airplanes and auto parts. The world’s first 3D printed car, Urbee2, has about 50 parts, while a standard car requires tens of thousands of parts. This minimalist technology has almost brought a new production concept.

On the one hand, the popularity of 3D printing technology comes from its technology meeting the needs of industrial production changes and its development towards rapid and low-cost direction. The integration of large-scale production and manual production is a destructive innovation for traditional mold production.

The impact of 3D printing technology on the auto parts industry may be more lasting and far-reaching. For the aforementioned 3D printed car Urbee 2, all external components including the glass panel are printed using 3D technology. At first glance, the use of 3D printing technology has greatly reduced the number of auto parts. In fact, 3D printing technology is more able to promote the innovation ability of the auto parts industry.

Started from the trial production of parts and components

The advantage of 3D printing technology is that it can quickly change design errors, improve production efficiency, and reduce development costs. Compared with traditional mold development, as well as complex processes such as forging and casting, it simplifies the intermediate links, thereby reducing the consumption of manpower and material resources and shortening the development cycle. Compared with the current development cycle of more than 45 days for domestic parts, 3D printing technology only needs a development cycle of 1 to 7 days depending on the complexity of the parts, and has outstanding advantages in the manufacture of complex parts.

For suppliers of independent brands, the trial production of parts and components is a test field that parts and components manufacturers attach great importance to. If the sample trial production adopts the traditional manufacturing process, it is often necessary to develop many molds and produce through a complicated process, which greatly increases the cost of the sample trial production. The application of 3D printing technology may be able to make up for these shortcomings. Ford is said to have 3D printing technology involved in the development and manufacturing of parts and components, and has pioneered 3D sand printing. Through this technology, a series of testable parts with subtle differences can be produced for selection. Until the best parts are selected and matched to the offline models.

Penetrate the customization of cars

With the development of emerging information technologies such as mobile Internet and cloud computing, personal experience is becoming more and more diverse. People have a stronger pursuit of a free experience that is not constrained by the external environment, and their individual needs have become increasingly obvious.

This demand also urges changes in social production and manufacturing models. The meaning of 3D printing technology is to enable people to integrate the digital world more closely with actual production, and seamlessly connect product manufacturing and personal needs. For example, some time ago, Motorola and 3D printing manufacturer 3DSystem developed the 3D printing production platform project ARA, which sounded the clarion call to enter the open source mobile phone hardware system. The main purpose of this project is to produce customized mobile phones for users. At that time, users can Choose different hardware like assembling a PC to piece together a personalized device.

Of course, not just mobile phones, the personalization brought about by the Internet also urges the arrival of car customization. As the frequency of car replacements accelerates and people’s demand for the right to choose car functions is gradually deepening, perhaps in the near future, cars will be able to achieve a deeper level of personalization instead of the current simple appearance distinction.

Among the sales methods of custom cars, the biggest problem is that personalized customization will delay the efficiency of the production process and bring the difficulty of mass production. At this time, the application of 3D printing technology may be able to bring greater imagination. People can get their favorite auto parts on hardware platforms such as ARA, such as car bumpers, rearview mirrors and other interior and exterior trim parts, to assemble their own customized cars. Furthermore, the use of 3D printing technology to produce parts can also reduce maintenance costs, print out damaged and scarce parts, and reduce inventory costs.

Of course, due to limited printing materials and other reasons, 3D printing technology is still in its infancy, and it is still far away from mass production. However, the advent of various 3D printed products represented by the 3D printed car Urbee 2 means that on a global scale, 3D printing technology has broken away from the concept of hype and moved into an industry, and can even reconstruct the car manufacturing model. This should be a good carrier for future independent brand innovation. Therefore, auto parts manufacturers should start from the moment, make good use of this forward-looking technology, and form a parallel supplementary relationship with traditional manufacturing before mass production is impossible, so as to accumulate experience for future mass customization production.

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