Automotive additive manufacturing has been embedded into the core of the auto industry in the form of rapid prototyping since the very first AM technologies appeared at the end of the 1980s. AM has subsequently gradually entered new areas of the automobile industry, such as motorsports and luxury limited editions, to then open new possibilities in terms of mass customization.

Now the next and final phase of AM adoption is upon us, as AM radically alters supply chain and production dynamics, becoming the standard for tooling and enabling new possibilities in spare parts and obsolescence management. With the ultimate goal of introducing AM technologies to truly digitalize and further automate serial mass production. In particular, the now clearly unstoppable EV revolution stands to both benefit and further drive adoption of AM as weight optimization and integrated subassemblies become a key requirement to extend mileage and reduce energy consumption within increasingly “solid-state” vehicles.

As the first major consumer product industry to do so, the implications and the potential for this paradigm shift are extremely significant for both AM and the global manufacturing industry as a whole. The implications extend to all industries linked to manufacturing, such as material production, and product distribution. The prospects, given the sheer scale of the global auto market, are incredibly important for the development of automotive additive manufacturing technology and are therefore quite exciting, as high throughput AM technologies become more established for polymer materials and may now finally be within reach for metals as well.

The production requirements of the automotive segment—and its subsegments—are unique, and strictly tied to both the underlying characteristics of the automotive segment (high productivity requirements, lower cost of materials, high automation of production), its changing trends (demand, regulations, scale economics, geopolitical situations, supply chain dynamics) and macro trends (propulsion systems, mass customization, smart mobility, connectivity and digitalization).

Most manufacturers of 3D printing technology have established strong ties and experience developing and selling solutions to the auto industry. The reality, however, is that the additive manufacturing industry at large is still only just waking up to the challenges associated with vertically integrated manufacturing solutions.

The next phase of innovation, adoption and industrialization of automotive additive manufacturing passes through scaling up of final parts production. In order for AM technologies to complete the necessary transition, several steps will need to be taken. These include continued investments in technology R&D from major stakeholders in both the AM and in the automotive industries; increased AM integration in the end-to-end manufacturing workflow to reduce costs and increase speeds, as well as the continued development of DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) optimizations. With new machines such as SLM Solutions’ 12-laser NXG 600 system, Desktop Metal’s Production Systems, GE Additive’s H2, HP’s MetalJet and ExOne’s X1 160Pro targeted specifically at this market segment and arriving into the market this year, 2021 is already shaping up the most critical period for this next phase of AM’s growth.

In this first AM Focus of 2021, in partnership with some of the most important automotive and AM industry stakeholders, we build upon our previous 2020 focus on Automotive AM to continue to shed light on the very latest developments for automotive additive manufacturing in terms of hardware technologies, material science and production automation, presenting an additional analysis of how AM is enabling the EV revolution.

  • 3D-print bodyform full bucket seat now available from Porsche

    Following some final adjustments, the customized 3D-print bodyform full bucket seat is now available as part of the new Performance Parts offering from Porsche Tequipment. The seat is suitable for various Boxster, Cayman and 911 models. From February 2022 onwards, it can also be ordered from Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur as…

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  • Divergent Technologies increases AM capacity with 3 SLM NXG XII 600s

    Divergent Technologies harnesses the power of additive manufacturing to unleash innovation in the automotive industry, making them a global innovator in the advancement of economical serial production. They have developed a state-of-the-art Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS), which will now be strengthened with the addition of three production SLM NXG…

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  • Sakuú Corporation raises $62M to bring 3D printed SSBs to market

    Sakuú Corporation, a company leading the development of an automated multi-material multi-process additive manufacturing to produce 3D printed SSBs (solid-state batteries), today closed a follow-on financing round bringing total funds raised to date to $62M. This funding bolsters the company’s ability to commercialize its first-generation solid-state batteries and bring to…

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  • Uniformity AlSi10Mg aluminum alloy powder shown to deliver increased throughput

    Uniformity Labs (Uniformity) has successfully printed an additively designed automotive component with its ultra-low porosity AlSi10Mg, a high throughput, aluminum alloy powder that exhibits optimal material properties. The Uniformity AlSi10Mg powder and optimizing print processes have previously been deployed with a variety of parts in various industries with great success.…

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  • Mission R: merging real racing and esports on 3D printed lattice seats

    The Mission R is the latest vision from Porsche. With this study of a fully electric GT racing car, the pioneer for sustainable mobility shows what customer motorsport could look like in the future. And the 3D printed lattice seats ensure maximum comfort. Mission R merges real racing and esports.…

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  • 100 million MJF parts produced to date using HP 3D printers

    HP has confirmed that strong momentum continues for HP’s core 3D printing technologies with more than 100 million MJF parts cumulatively produced with HP’s planar polymer powder bed fusion process. Automotive is among the many industries undergoing digital transformation with a rapid shift to electrification, growing vehicle connectivity, supply chain…

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  • Wildeboer and Spencer bring industry knowledge to Equispheres’ board of directors

    Two new members of the Board of Directors for Equispheres will contribute valuable financial and industry expertise as the company makes inroads into the automotive supply chain and marks another important milestone in the organization’s scale-up. “The addition of Rob Wildeboer as a director, with his extensive experience and reach…

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  • SOLIZE to 3D print parts for Toyota GR Heritage Parts Project

    After the successful joint development and on-demand production of discontinued replacement parts for Nissan’s NISMO Heritage Parts program, SOLIZE and HP are continuing their long-standing partnership to advance digital manufacturing in automotive with additive manufacturing of Toyota’s A70 Supra out-of-production spare parts, for the GR Heritage Parts Project. SOLIZE is…

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  • ARRIS, US Army and LIFT to collaborate on lightweight vehicles

    ARRIS is partnering up with the US Army’s Michigan-based Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center (DEVCOM GVSC) to leverage its Additive Molding technology in a project focused on lightweight vehicles. In particular, the companies will look at vehicle seats, to demonstrate significant vehicle weight reductions through part consolidation,…

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  • Eastern Michigan University to purchase two Olli 3D printed EV

    In an effort to highlight its commitment to technology, Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology will deploy autonomous Olli smart EV shuttles this school year as it will open a new research and development space at the American Center for Mobility (ACM) in Ypsilanti, Mich. Manufactured…

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