AMS Spring 2023

GM Turns to HP’s MJF 3D Printing for Fast Part Production

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At this week’s RAPID+TCT event, HP will be running its high volume production Jet Fusion 5200 platform, powered by Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology which has now printed more than 100 million parts. During the event, HP revealed that this 3D printing system, introduced in 2019, has received new enhancements to its performance capabilities, stating it now provides superior repeatability, reliability, and part quality, along with new features that enable better control job-to-job and printer-to-printer.

“Businesses of all sizes, across all industries, are rethinking how to design, manufacture, and mass-produce goods – all while keeping personalization and sustainability top of mind,” suggested Didier Deltort, President of Personalization and 3D Printing at HP. “To scale production, and deliver customized products to market quickly, and efficiently, companies must be confident AM solutions can meet the demand. We are committed to innovating and enhancing our HP Metal Jet and Multi Jet Fusion platforms to support our production partners and customers as they push the limits of AM production.”

Companies in a wide range of industries use this technology to scale production and deliver customized products to market quickly and more efficiently. One industry, in particular, has seen plenty of advantages through HP’s MJF, automotive. HP says automakers in Detroit have been leading the industry’s charge of advancement to realize the benefits of 3D printing, and the company is working with dozens of automakers, suppliers, and production partners to design and develop sustainable parts from prototyping to serial production.

Along with pioneering Detroit automaker General Motors (GM), it has produced a variety of MJF final parts, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts for its Cadillac V-Series, cooling ducts for the Corvette C8, and other components used for design iteration, prototyping, and service.

Most recently, GM has produced a variety of final parts using MJF, including a recent example of an innovative approach to creating a spoiler closeout seal added to the rear portion of several of the company’s most popular full-size SUVs. In addition, working with HP and GKN Forecast 3D, GM was able to speed up the drying time, which accelerated the production schedule of full-sized SUVs, successfully creating and polishing the required 60,000 parts over the span of five weeks for use on approximately 30,000 vehicles.

GM’s additive manufacturing engineers Adam Campbell and Christine Bardsley explained that in 2021, GM was preparing its manufacturing network for the production launch of the model year 2022 full-size SUV passenger vehicles when an engineering decision was made to implement a design change very late in the development process. The change required an additional part to be introduced, something that is very rare so late in the game.

Instead of using traditional manufacturing channels (which would have delayed customer deliveries), GM decided to ask the AM experts at its Additive Industrialization Center (AIC), a 15,000 square foot facility inaugurated in 2020, dedicated to transforming GM operations through 3D printing.

GM’s additive manufacturing team recommended using HP’s MJF technology, which uses applied ink to promote energy absorption from a fusing lamp. As a result, the team produced a 3D printed spoiler closeout seal comparable to its injection-molded counterpart, both aesthetically and functionally, highlighting the engineers.

Once the concept part was created, the team validated its functionality and design through wind tunnel testing to ensure the part met the required aerodynamic specifications. Then the pieces would have to go through a standard finishing process. Here, engineers turned to the 3D printing service bureau GKN Forecast 3D to ramp up the production of the approved spoiler closeout seal. Within a few days, GKN Forecast 3D tested, validated, and implemented a new drying process that reduced 60% of the time it would have taken GM to surface finish the parts. With all the processes in place, the teams accelerated the production schedule and successfully created and polished the required 60,000 parts in five weeks.

3D printed rear spoiler closeout seal for General Motors.

3D printed rear spoiler closeout seal for General Motors, before (left) and after (right) undergoing the finishing process. Image courtesy of GKN Forecast 3D.

This challenging situation saved GM time and money that would have otherwise delayed the production line for its SUVs. Following the success of the part development process, which was done in just three weeks, it is imaginable that moving forward; the company will once again turn to HPs MJF technology to accelerate product development cycles and innovate in part production.

Campbell and Bardsley will discuss this case with a live audience at the Rapid+TCT panel “How Additive Manufacturing Enabled GM to Navigate Production Challenges for Certain Model Year 2022 Full-Size SUVs.” The discussion, which will take place on May 18 at 2 PM Eastern Time, will also center around the capabilities of AM as well as the tangible real-world benefits and scale at which the technology can be implemented to solve challenges, create greater efficiency and provide overall value to a company.

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