3D Printing, Printable Electronics, and The Automotive Industry Part 1

March 1, 2017

 

 

What if you could 3D print complex objects that aren’t just re-hashes of common household helpers like a printed toothpaste squeezer or a door-holding latch? Don’t get us wrong, those items serve their purpose and are fun, but what really gets us excited here at Nano3Dprint are the strides being made in a wide array of verticals, including the automotive industry. What was once a “one day” pipedream, is quickly transitioning from idea to prototype to industry standard.

Visualize going to a car dealership and ordering up a custom car on a touch screen, with your exact specifications. Then you get to watch it come to life via additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Sound a bit too farcical? 3D manufacturing has already changed the way we are thinking about car manufacturing on a cosmetic level. In this post we will be discussing some of the advancements which have already been made due to 3D technology, but also we will venture into some of the exciting automotive innovations on the horizon.

 

The First Handgun File Spread Like Wildfire

2013 was a watershed moment for additive manufacturing. A group called Defense Distributed uploaded the CAD (Computer Aided Design) for a 3D printable fully functional handgun to the internet. Soon after the files were taken down because of the potentially dangerous ramifications of such a powerful file being made public. In fact, the file got over 100,000 downloads in just the first two days-yikes. More generally, however, it was a harbinger of the manufacturing paradigm shift which was only beginning. Manufacturing, and humanity for that matter, will never be the same. This was only a spark in the fire that is fast becoming the debate about how 3D printing, private rights, and public safety all come together.

 

More Lightweight Car Parts

In a less controversial sphere, people are excited about what kind of 3D printing uses the automotive industry will develop. So far, the outcomes have been encouraging. 3D printed parts have already been incorporated in the manufacturing and implementation of some of the world’s most exotic cars. For example, in 2014 the 1,300-horsepower Koenigsegg One:1 “hypercar” became the first vehicle with an equal power to weight ratio. The hypercar had one horsepower for every kilogram it weighed. On the one hand, having an engine with that kind of power is an impressive feat in its own right, but the interesting part to us is how they made the rest of the vehicle so lightweight. The chassis, body, and seats are made of a fibrous carbon which cut weight significantly. But the best part is that the Swedish company  3D printed its exhaust end piece from titanium, rather than aluminum. It’s marginally lighter than steel, but significantly less expensive, which is why many major OEMs are making the switch to titanium exhaust pipes.

 

Printing Off Entire Dashboards

Glickenhaus’ SCG-003C (modestly priced at $2.35 million) also employed 3D manufacturing to enhance the cosmetics of their vehicle. If you were to step inside the 003, you would notice that is contains one very large air vent on the dashboard. This was the original air vent used in the 1960s Ferrari P4. Glickenhaus actually owned the Ferrari P4 in questi