What if you never had to hear, “They don’t make that part anymore” from your local mechanic?
That fantasy may soon be a reality for car owners thanks to the latest innovations at auto parts manufacturer Cummins. Having already embraced 3D-printing for heavy-duty engine repairs, the Indiana-based company recently sold their first 3D printed auto part.
Now, they’re looking to disrupt the industry with mass production.
Industry 4.0 in 3D
The landmark part was merely a low-volume bracket, but its creation marks the beginning of Cummins’ strategy to incorporate additive manufacturing and 3D printing at a larger scale.
Investment into 3D printing seems like a no-brainer for Cummins: the Fortune 500 company designs diesel and natural-gas powered engines, power generators, filtration systems, turbochargers, fuel systems, and more.
Embracing 3D printing allows Cummins to “package” multiple, formerly-individual parts into one printed whole. This ensures the production of lighter, stronger, and more reliable parts, especially for components like joint assemblies and weldments. In the testing phase, the ability to just tweak the design file and then reprint also improves upon traditional manufacturing methods.
Beyond more efficient and exact analysis-led design, additive manufacturing also benefits the everyday consumer. According to Kelly R. Schmitz, Executive Director of New and ReCon Parts Engineering, “[3D printing] provides an avenue for customers looking for hard-to-find parts”, and that customers could soon get hard-to-find parts in days or weeks instead of months.
Impacts Beyond The Manufacturing Industry
Cummins’ developments could shake other industries too.
Classic car restorers are all too familiar with getting stuck needing a rare or out-of-production part, especially if they aren’t handy with metalworking themselves. 3D printed auto parts would not only make the hobby more accessible, but it would also mean big business for whichever additive manufacturers can partner with well-known parts providers like McMaster-Carr and Classic Industries.
While it might be a stretch to imagine mechanics down at the local Pep Boys playing with 3D printers while your car is getting serviced, the relationship (and speed) between such businesses and their parts providers could change drastically.
Positive impacts could also be seen outside the car industry: Cummins says mass production using 3D printing would help the environment. Not only would there be less waste due to the elimination of the tool and die process, but the ability to produce parts locally would also cut down on the current environmental costs associated with transporting parts.
“I’m thinking as soon as five years. We are the start of a really interesting time in manufacturing,” said Director of Advanced Manufacturing Brett Boas. “With this technology, you can really unshackle the designer to do things you just can’t do using traditional forms of manufacturing.”
To prepare, Cummins has already hired their first dedicated additive manufacturing engineer—surely the first of many.
Discuss this news, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Iowa Demolishes Its First 3D Printed Home
In May 2023, the city of Muscatine, Iowa embarked on an ambitious plan to construct 3D printed homes. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the first such home was demolished. 3D rendering...
3D Printing News Briefs, November 25, 2023: Housing, Seed Funding, & More
We’re starting with additive construction news in this Thanksgiving weekend edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to seed funding and a Memorandum of Understanding. Finally, we’ll...
Mighty Buildings to 3D Print Visitors Center alongside Buckminster Fuller’s Dome Home
Mighty Buildings, the Oakland-based additive construction (AC) firm specializing in prefabricated, climate-resilient homes, has partnered with the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home Not-For-Profit to 3D print a visitors center and...
Alquist 3D & the State of Colorado to Build a Foundation for 3D Printed Housing: Interview with CEO Zachary Mannheimer
No matter how much progress is made in printing with concrete, additive construction (AC) may always be the wild card of the additive manufacturing (AM) sector. So much the better:...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.