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The impact of 3D printing on automotive design

3D Hubs has produced more than 3,000,000 parts since the company was founded in 2013. Many of these parts were manufactured specifically for automotive applications. The unique nature of 3D printing has made automotive design easier and cheaper than ever before.

How automotive 3D printing has changed the industry

Every vehicle goes through a complicated design and development process: individual parts must be engineered and tested for weight, structural integrity and aerodynamic suitability. Previously, sourcing prototypes and detailed parts was expensive and time-consuming. Complicated meshes and tubing structures incurred prohibitive costs that could raise the price of a vehicle by thousands of dollars. Engineers had to spend time negotiating quotes and waiting for production; if the part didn’t work, the cycle started anew.

Thanks to online 3D printing, automotive design has become easier, faster and more affordable than ever before. Engineers can conceive of unique parts and receive a prototype within weeks of creating the initial design. Design processes can include more trial and error, and final products are easier to manufacture.

Additive manufacturing can easily meet the design requirements for automotive applications. From moisture resistance to weight reduction, this unique production method creates parts exactly as specified.

The result is a flexible automotive industry that moves on a faster schedule. From prototypes to final products, automotive 3D printing has revolutionized the way vehicles are designed. 

3D Printing Automotive Design 3D Hubs
A range of automotive components prototyped with AM technologies

Using additive manufacturing for automotive applications

Thanks to the flexible nature of the creation process, additive manufacturing is uniquely suited for automotive design. The modern automotive engineer uses a 3D printing service for most prototyping and small-batch manufacturing needs.

Design prototypes with short lead times

  • Design prototypes with short lead times: When it comes to meeting a tight deadline, additive manufacturing is a designer’s best friend. Manufacture ready-to-use prototypes that can usually be delivered within a week. 3D Hubs partners with nearby manufacturers to ensure the shortest lead times on the market.

Create complicated shapes and structures for no additional cost

  • Create complicated shapes and structures for no additional cost: The beauty of additive manufacturing is that geometric complexity doesn’t cost extra. Design aerodynamic facades or delicate cooling ducts with variable wall thicknesses. Products are made to exact specifications; count on a final result that meets the engineering needs of any design.

Order individual parts for rare or specialty designs

  • Order individual parts for rare or specialty designs: 3D printing is an affordable way to source parts for vintage cars and specialty models. Print with metal or high-integrity polycarbonate to replace unique parts that have been lost to the ages.

Fabricate cosmetic pieces and visual prototypes

  • Fabricate cosmetic pieces and visual prototypes: Material jetting and SLA printing can be used to create full-color photorealistic visual prototypes. Use this technology for display and test models that are identical to the final product.

Manufacture parts in small to medium batches

  • Manufacture parts in small to medium batches: Additive manufacturing currently rivals other manufacturing methods for cost-competitiveness in small to medium batches. Use 3D printing to achieve a specialty print run without the same startup costs as injection molding.

3D Printing Automotive Design 3D Hubs

How to order custom parts from an online 3D printing service

Turn any design into a reality with the 3D Hubs online manufacturing tool. A 3D printing or CNC quote is generated as soon as a CAD file is uploaded; choose material and manufacturing options to create a part that fits any design or budget.

3D Hubs is proud to partner with automotive manufacturers across the world to create high-end products for modern vehicle designs. Use additive manufacturing to produce any prototype or end-use design for a surprisingly affordable cost.

3D Printing Automotive Design 3D Hubs

This article was published in collaboration with 3D Hubs.


Marinus Nutma

Marinus Nutma is an experienced Search Engine Optimization Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the IT industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and now working for 3D Hubs the world's largest network manufacturing services. With production facilities connected in over 140 countries, the 3D Hubs online platform helps product designers and engineers find the fastest and most price competitive manufacturing solution nearby.

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