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Additive Manufacturing Impacts Every Part of the Automotive Value Chain

The automotive industry is facing a period of unprecedented upheaval. The ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and global geopolitical instability are disrupting supply-chains. Shortage of computer chips at the same time as the race towards electrification is accelerating is putting strain on legacy and emerging OEMs. Low-cost production is no longer the key to success that it once was, and increasing complexity and customization means cars are more ‘artisan’ than the pictures of production lines would have us believe.

Kick off your RAPID + TCT experience with Kevin Czinger’s presentation on Industrial Digital Manufacturing Systems and their impacts on manufacturing operations
Tuesday, May 2 | Main Stage | 8:45 am
Building and Scaling an Industrial Digital Manufacturing System
Kevin Czinger, Founder, Lead Inventor and CEO
Divergent Technologies Inc.

Don’t lose sight of the power of prototyping

While prototyping, as in all sectors, provided the initial route in for AM, the touchpoints between automotive manufacturing requirements and AM’s capabilities are growing all the time. Today, AM is still used extensively across the automotive and mobility sectors for prototyping in virtually all systems.

See how polymer AM is impacting the automotive industry’s manufacturing efforts with GM’s Brennan White
Tuesday, May 2, 3:00pm
Increasing Penetration of Polymers in Automotive Pre-Production Work
Brennon White BSME, CAM-F Technical Lead - AM Product Applications
General Motors

AM for production 

In tooling and production, AM continues to become more capable, more reliable and better qualified for end-use parts production. While AM parts are already found on production vehicles, the models tend to be shorter run than true mass market vehicles (although the total numbers of AM parts from some marques is already significant). Speed and efficiency is being improved as AM technologies mature and the focus on developing the entire AM ‘ecosystem’ — including software upstream and automation and post processing downstream —  is delivering AM-based solutions for previously inaccessible challenges.

For more on ensuring your AM process is truly fit for industrial purpose, join Dr. Youping Gao’s workshop
Monday, May 1, 1:00 pm–4:00 pm
Robust Additive Manufacturing Process Development for Industrialization

Every vehicle is unique

Generally car makers now utilize fewer platforms than in the past, tending to consolidate as much as possible for use across diverse models. On the flip side updates to models are now more regular, with minor design updates happening on an annual or even more regular basis. Cars are also becoming more complex, in terms of drive trains, electronics, autonomous capabilities, etc. Customization is also being driven by consumer demand. Gone are the days of three trim levels and two engine options with individual models now having tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of potential variants.

The current capabilities of AM are ideal for customization and personalization applications. Both interior and exterior parts can leverage AM to react to customer demands for a product that represents them.

AM in the battle for supply chain stability

Re-shoring and near-shoring continue to grow as trends across the manufacturing industry. Automotive manufacturers have been rudely reminded of the challenges of complex supply chains and over-reliance on single sources with the impact of silicon chip shortages. Adoption of AM improves supply chain flexibility which improves efficiency and allows manufacturers to more easily accommodate design changes and react to market changes.

The future is electric 

An exciting avenue for AM within electrification is in the manufacture of DC motors. Current design relies heavily on permanent magnets, increasing reliance on rare earth metals from an increasingly unstable and unsustainable supply chain. Rotors are produced by winding a wire of electrically conductive alloy. The alloy composition can be changed to improve the conductivity and thus efficiency, but this reduces the ductility required for the winding process. AM can be employed to manufacture complex geometries from less ductile, higher conductivity alloys, with designs that also aid heat dissipation and address other challenges of legacy methods.

Check in with Sona Dadhania to see where AM can really impact electrification
Wednesday, May 3, 11:00am
Additive Manufacturing for Electric Vehicles: Breaking Through the Hype to Evaluate its True Potential
Sona Dadhania MSc, Technology Analyst - 3D Printing