The automotive industry is in a state of flux. Significant swings in gas prices, as well as environmental and political pressures, challenge the industry to balance between the economics of gas guzzling SUVs and lightweight electric vehicles. Ride-sharing and shared ownership business models are gaining momentum, and leaps in technology have put autonomous vehicles on the road, changing the way we view our use of cars. Automotive manufacturers must adapt to all that change, whilst also facing the age-old challenge of minimizing p roduction costs. Scott Sevcik, VP Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys, considers 3D printing – the definition of disruptive technology – and its role supporting the automotive industry as it adjusts to a new reality.
The automotive industry was one of the first to really grasp the benefits of 3D printing. Long used as a tool for rapid prototyping, it was this industry that led high-end 3D printer and material sales in recent years, but this was often kept under wraps as cagey design studios withheld their secret weapon. By slashing design costs and timescales, even contributing to better design by enabling adaptations on the fly with multiple iterations in a matter of hours, 3D printing has made a significant contribution to the automotive design process. As the technology and materials continue to advance even further, it’s a trend set to stay for the foreseeable future.