Although introduced in the 80s, most famously by legendary Chuck Hull, 3D printing has been a well-kept secret by organizations like NASA and numerous automotive companies who have been enjoying the magic of digital fabrication for decades. General Motors qualifies as one, using the technology since the late 80s and continuing to do so today. The proof lies in its latest, spectacular prototype of a Chevrolet Corvette—almost completely 3D-printed.
And while the public loves to hear about affordable and snazzy 3D-printed cars, modern buses, or even bikes—here, GM is going back to the roots of rapid prototyping—and using all the classic benefits of 3D printing for research, design, and complex engineering. With an advanced prototype of the 2020 Stingray, comprised 75 percent of 3D-printed parts, automotive engineers have the incredible luxury of designing lightweight, durable parts for rigorous testing.
And if the components don’t fit or work properly? The days of yore and going back to the drawing board are just an old-fashioned concept as the C8 team can simply refigure a 3D design, 3D print the part again quickly and affordably, and go back to the assessment of performance.
According to Kevin Quinn, GM director of additive design and manufacturing, their team is able to “quickly get a prototype part. We can iterate that part maybe five times in a week, so you make sure you get the right design.”
Such latitude in design and further development must feel like a huge luxury to engineers in many different industries—in comparison to how the process used to work with considerable waiting time required in between iterations. Additive manufacturing processes have also evolved substantially in recent years in terms of hardware, software, and a wide range of materials, to include major strides with metal. For this project, it means that any design discrepancies are fixed quickly and on-site, and the C8 team is also able to make sure that necessary areas can be accessed by engineers and mechanics during production.
3D-printed parts have also been used to assess the opening/closing mechanisms of the retractable folding hardtop, and right-hand drive mechanisms for models being sold in the UK and Australia. 3D printing allows for the evaluation of important sensing devices for vehicles with driver assistance features. These sensors can also be used in the actual training of robots that are involved in the manufacturing of functional parts later.
“You can print a couple of parts and that’s good enough for robots to be able to assess access points and buildability,” said Ron Daul, GM director of additive manufacturing.
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
3DXTECH Launches “Pellet to Part” Program for 3D Printing Materials
Always looking to shake up the material extrusion segment of 3D printing, Michigan-based 3DXTECH has introduced a novel initiative named the “Pellet to Part” program. To further drive collaboration with...
The AM Future is Big, and Robotic—Here’s Why
The past two years have seen a growing presence of robotics and large format solutions taking center stage in the AM industry. This “trend” seems to be set to stay...
ADAXIS: Navigating Robotic Additive Manufacturing with a US Market Focus
ADAXIS, a French-Swedish software company established in 2021, has become a key player in the field of Robotic Additive Manufacturing by offering advanced tool-pathing software solutions. The company is dedicated...
Now on Kickstarter: The “First Stable Desktop Pellet 3D Printer”
Kickstarter has been the graveyard for several high-profile 3D printers. The crowdfunding platform has also introduced numerous subpar 3D printers, alongside some truly outstanding ones. It was on Kickstarter that...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.