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Exploring the Benefits of Additive Manufacturing in Automotive Engineering

What is 3D Printing in the automotive industry?

In the world of automotive engineering, where accuracy, effectiveness, and new ideas are crucial, additive manufacturing (AM) has become a game-changer. Historically, the car industry mainly used subtractive manufacturing methods like milling and casting. But now, with technologies like 3D printing, a whole new range of possibilities has opened for automotive.

 

The Evolution of Additive Manufacturing in Automotive Engineering

Additive manufacturing in automotive engineering has undergone rapid evolution, transitioning from prototyping to the production of end-use parts. Initially utilized for rapid prototyping to test and validate designs before committing to costly tooling, 3D printing has advanced significantly. As materials have become more robust, automotive manufacturers have increasingly turned to additive manufacturing for functional parts production.

A key advantage of additive manufacturing lies in its capacity to produce complex geometries with intricate details, challenging or even impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing methods. This capability empowers automotive engineers to design lightweight components without sacrificing strength or performance.

 

Benefits of Additive Manufacturing in Automotive Engineering

Benefits of Additive Manufacturing in Automotive Engineering

 

  1. Weight Reduction and Performance Enhancement
    In automotive engineering, reducing weight while maintaining structural integrity is crucial for improving fuel efficiency and performance. Additive manufacturing allows engineers to design and produce lightweight components with optimized geometries, resulting in vehicles that are lighter, more fuel-efficient, and agile on the road.
  1. Design Freedom and Customization
    With additive manufacturing, automotive designers have unparalleled design freedom. They can create intricate shapes, lattice structures, and complex geometries that were previously impossible or cost-prohibitive to manufacture. This flexibility enables customization at scale, allowing manufacturers to tailor components to specific vehicle models or even individual customer preferences.

  2. Rapid Prototyping and Iteration
    In the automotive industry, time-to-market is critical. Additive manufacturing accelerates the prototyping process by enabling rapid iteration and refinement of designs. Engineers can quickly produce functional prototypes for testing and validation, reducing lead times and speeding up the product development cycle.

Case Study: BMW’s Use of Additive Manufacturing

BMW 3D Printing

 

BMW is one of the automotive pioneers that has fully embraced additive manufacturing technology. The company utilizes 3D printing for various applications, including prototyping, tooling, and end-use part production.

One notable example is the BMW i8 Roadster, which features a metal 3D-printed bracket for mounting the convertible top. This lightweight component, made possible through additive manufacturing, contributes to the vehicle’s overall weight reduction and performance enhancement.


*Source: https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0286895EN/a-million-printed-components-in-just-ten-years:-bmw-group-makes-increasing-use-of-3d-printing?language=en

 

BMW 3D Printing components BMW i8 Roadster

 

Summary

As additive manufacturing advances, its impact on automotive engineering will grow. Future developments in materials, processes, and design software will expand 3D printing possibilities in the industry.

From mass customization to on-demand spare parts production, additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize vehicle design, manufacturing, and servicing. As automotive manufacturers adopt 3D printing technologies, we anticipate seeing innovative designs, improved performance, and sustainable solutions.

Projet considers 3D printing service as a key factor to the success of fast adoption of AM in manufacturing, We offer a range of capabilities, including 3D printing technologies such as FDM, SLA, and SLS, along with various solutions like rapid prototyping, mechanical design, and reverse engineering. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to support your company in its processes.


Connect with Projet:

If you’ve had a positive experience with Projet that you’d like to share, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We eagerly anticipate hearing from you.

For additional information, visit our website for comprehensive details about our services and contact information. Our friendly team is ready to assist you at any time.

Rubber-Like Resin

Rubber-like resin has a low tensile modulus and high elongation at break, making it well-suited for objects that will be bent or compressed.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): –
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 7.9
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): –
  • Elongation(%): 255.1
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 60-75

ESD-safe (Electrostatic discharge)

It exhibits excellent antistatic performance, making it particularly suitable for fields that require ESD protection.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.11
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 35-37
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1300-1500
  • Elongation(%): 5-7
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 98
  • Surface Resistance: 107 and 109 ohms Ω

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

ABS is a lightweight material known for its high impact resistance. These characteristics, coupled with a high heat deflection temperature, render ABS suitable for a wide range of applications and environments.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.06
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 40
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1203
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 73
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol)

PETG is a robust material known for its odor neutrality and ease of printing. These characteristics, combined with high impact strength, flexibility, low shrinkage, water resistance, chemical resistance, and high toughness, make PETG an excellent choice for a variety of applications.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.27
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 52
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1073
  • Elongation(%): 83
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 64
  • Hardness Shore D: –

TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane)

TPU material is renowned for its excellent flexibility, high elasticity, tear resistance, wear resistance, cut resistance, sturdiness, and durability.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: NO
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 35
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): –
  • Elongation(%): ≥800
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 95A

Nylon / PA (Polyamide)

Nylon is a versatile material known for its good flexibility, wear resistance, and high strength-to-weight ratio. PA12, in particular, exhibits high toughness and impact resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 50
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 659
  • Elongation(%): 165
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 100
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PC (Polycarbonates)

PC is a high-performance material known for its toughness, heat resistance, dimensional stability, and high optical clarity. It exhibits excellent mechanical properties, high toughness, and impact resistance, making it stable and durable. Additionally, PC offers impressive temperature resistance, with a heat distortion temperature up to 80 ℃.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 54
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1073
  • Elongation(%): 150
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 80
  • Hardness Shore D: –

ASA (Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)

ASA shares excellent mechanical properties with ABS but offers additional benefits. It is more resistant to ultraviolet rays and harsh weather conditions, making it particularly suitable for outdoor use. ASA boasts strong toughness, rigidity, and high impact resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 50
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4300
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 88
  • Hardness Shore D: –

UL 94-V0

It possesses higher mechanical properties and is halogen-free, environmentally friendly, and flame retardant, achieving a UL94V-0 level flame retardancy. This makes the product more fireproof and safer.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 45
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 2400
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 85
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PLA-CF (Carbon fiber reinforced polylactic acid)

Carbon fibber reinforced PLA, stands out for its remarkable increase in stiffness and strength. This cutting-edge bio-polymer, when combined with recycled carbon fibber reinforcement, results in a higher mechanical properties

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.22
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 89
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 3950
  • Elongation(%): 3.2
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 55
  • Hardness Shore D: –

ABS-Like Resin

ABS-like resin excels in high precision, providing a smooth surface quality with exquisite detail features. Known for its superior forming dimensional stability, this resin is ideal for the assembly and testing of various engineering models. Achieving a perfect balance between tensile strength and hardness, it prevents brittleness with its high elongation at break, ensuring resistance to breaking.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05-1.13
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 42-62
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 60-80
  • Elongation(%): 11-21
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 75-80

PAHT-CF (High temperature polyamide carbon fiber reinforced)

A composite of PA and carbon fibre, merges the low water absorption advantage of PA with the high-performance attributes of carbon fibre. This combination yields excellent mechanical and thermal properties that remain robust even in wet conditions. PA+CF is prized for its outstanding chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, and versatile processing capabilities.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.06
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 125
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4230
  • Elongation(%): 1.8
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 194
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PET-CF (Carbon fiber reinforced polyethylene terephthalate)

PET-CF emerges as a superior choice over nylon for printing functional parts in high-humidity environments. Its high-temperature resistance and minimal warping make it ideal for crafting mechanical assembly parts, including automotive accessories and fixtures. In comparison to PETG-CF, PET-CF contains a higher concentration of carbon fibre, resulting in significantly greater strength and high temperature resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.29
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 131
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 5320
  • Elongation(%): 1.2
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 205
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PEEK (Polyether ether ketone)

PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is a high-performance semi-crystalline industrial thermoplastic known for its exceptional resistance to harsh chemicals, minimal moisture absorption, excellent fire performance, superior mechanical strength over a wide temperature range, and reliable dimensional stability.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.29
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 100
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4200
  • Elongation(%): 40
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 140
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PEI (Polyetherimide)

PEI is a high-performance industrial-grade thermoplastic known for its strength, durability, and low flammability. This versatile material finds applications in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, medicine, and dentistry.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: NO
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: NO

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.34
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 54
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 2170
  • Elongation(%): 3
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 158
  • Hardness Shore D: –

General Resin

General resin, known for its high rigidity, proves to be a versatile material ideal for both functional testing and rapid prototype.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: NO
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.13
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 46-67
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 46-72
  • Elongation(%): 28-36
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 78-82

High Temp. Resin

High Temp Resin is characterized by high hardness, strength, modulus, and precision. It exhibits resistance to prolonged heating at 120°C or boiling at 100°C, showcasing excellent mechanical properties, weather resistance, and temperature resistance.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: NO

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.09-1.10
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 70-85
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 95-105
  • Elongation(%): 35-40
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 100.5
  • Hardness Shore D: 82-84

Hard-Tough Resin

This hard resin boasts higher toughness and impact resistance compared to standard ABS-like resin, making it exceptionally well-suited for mechanical prototypes.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.12
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 30-60
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 30-75
  • Elongation(%): 35-52
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 60
  • Hardness Shore D: 75-81

Nylon-Like Resin

Nylon-like resin is a high-strength material known for its excellent durability and long-term stability. It also boasts exceptional toughness and impact resistance.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05-1.15
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 68
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 35
  • Elongation(%): 15
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 75

PLA (Polylactic acid)

PLA is an environmentally friendly biopolymer-based material that is both stiff and easy to print. It is available in a wide variety of colours.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: NO
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.23
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 60
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1973
  • Elongation(%): 20
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 53
  • Hardness Shore D: –