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Automotive Additive Manufacturing Discussion with Expert, Fadi Abro

By <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/eric-bryant/" target="_self">Eric Bryant</a>

By Eric Bryant

Posted on March 1, 2023

In January, TriMech hosted a Automotive Additive Manufacturing Discussion webinar with Stratasys’ Fadi Abro. Keep reading to get answers to some of the biggest industry questions.

TriMech’s Eric Bryant, Applications Engineer:

Our first question for you, Fadi, is how is additive manufacturing used in the automotive industry?

Stratasys’ Fadi Abro, Global Director, Transportation:

It’s a great question. Let me just start by saying that Stratasys has been working with the automotive industry in different OEMs and supply base for many years. We have solutions that are tailored to this industry that we’ll talk about here shortly. Since we have been working hand in hand with the automotive industry for a long time the answer to a question like this spans all different categories.

Certainly, product development is a place where additive and 3D printing has been known to add value on the product development side, prototyping and engineering fit and function type activity. In recent years, manufacturing support has become the standard new fertile ground in the automotive industry because we’re able to print tooling, make assembly aides, end of arm tools, and create fixtures in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

End of arm tooling

End of arm robotic vacuum gripper

Given everything happening in the supply chain, it’s nice to have innovation like a 3D printer onsite at a manufacturing plant or centrally accessible for all your manufacturing plants to make this type of tooling. It helps to put the car together and helps check the accuracy of your product. This has become the new area where companies are saving millions of dollars by adopting this technology. And at a time where everyone’s prayed about inflation and worried about how much things cost; additive is a tool to help you reduce cost.

And then, of course, the holy Grail that we always talk about is 3D printing as production. We often make the jump from prototype to production, and we skip that metal tool or that middle space of our tooling that I just talked about. But in all honesty, production is difficult for the automotive industry because of the volumes that we produce. You know, an F-150 gets produced every 50 seconds. And in Texas, the GM plant that makes Escalades, Tahoe, and Yukon makes 1,300 cars a day. These volumes are really, really high. And if you’ve got to order one now, it’s eight months out. So just imagine the scale they’re producing and why tooling is so important to help produce more vehicles.

On the production side, we’re seeing more use cases because customers are demanding customization for their vehicles, especially as the price of vehicle goes up. When the price of a vehicle goes up, the demand for it to be slightly different or slightly customized goes up, which creates lower volumes, and then that opens the door for additive. We see some of those examples for high-end aftermarket vehicles, again, fertile ground for 3D printing in this space.

Automotive Additive Manufacturing on-demand webinar

Stratasys’ Fadi Abro, Global Director, Transportation and TriMech’s Eric Bryant, Applications Engineer discuss the following questions:

  • What do you think the future holds for additive manufacturing in the automotive industry?
  • Which technologies and materials do you see most often being used in the automotive industry?
  • What are some of the additive manufacturing trends you have seen within the automotive industry?
  • Has additive manufacturing usage plateaued?
  • Can you tell us a little bit about the McLaren Racing and Roush case studies?
  • What size printer should I go with?
  • Are the Nylon materials hydrostatic?
  • Are 3D printing materials as strong as metal?
  • Can you do an on-site survey to help identify 3D printing applications?
Article by <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/eric-bryant/" target="_self">Eric Bryant</a>

Article by Eric Bryant

Eric Bryant in a 3D Printing Applications Specialist at TriMech