Bodyshop Trade Organization Launches 3D Printing in Auto Repair Task Force


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Last month, the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) Worldwide announced at the IBIS USA 2023 trade conference that it is launching a network called the 3D Printing in Auto Repair Task Force. IBIS Worldwide is, according to the organization, the world’s first (and one of the world’s only) provider of conferences dedicated to the collision repair industry.

The task force has several long-term objectives, with the most urgent one, perhaps, being the creation of a network of experts and industry professionals with knowledge, experience, and interest in the use of 3D printing for auto repair. Pools for prospective members include both the additive manufacturing (AM) field, as well as all the many subdivisions within the auto industry, from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to insurers.

From there, the task force’s action plan entails a multifaceted approach to establish and grow the R&D and validation of 3D printed automotive repair parts, and even mentions the goal of establishing a certification body for such parts. The membership already comprises a formidable list of founding participants, and the head of the task force is Harold Sears, who ran the AM division at Ford Motor Company.

A 3D printed Ford part implemented during Harold Sears’ time at Ford. Image courtesy of Carbon

In a press release announcing the launch of the 3D Printing in Auto Repair Task Force, Sears commented, “We believe that 3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach parts supply and repair work, and we are excited to explore the possibilities further. …By exploring the use of 3D printing in repair work, we can find new and innovative ways to improve services and offer more efficient and cost-effective solutions to parts supply and collision repair businesses.”

The CEO of IBIS, Jason Moseley, who is also a member of the task force, said, “IBIS is very excited to be able to support such an innovative initiative and help educate and facilitate the introduction of 3D printing in the collision and auto repair industry. I also look forward to taking part in the task force and collaborating with the other subject matter experts on this exciting venture.”

Image courtesy of 3D Printing in Auto Repair Task Force

As the scale-up of the 3D printing industry accelerates, this is exactly the sort of development that is going to become more prevalent, and exactly the sort of organization that is going to become more influential. Which specific organizations ultimately gain the most influence is going to be decided very quickly, too.

Unlike at the beginning of earlier major epochs in industrialization, “Industry 4.0”, as it is sometimes still called, is emerging in an era in which the internet already exists. This gives any group of interests with enough resources to fund the best social media campaign a virtually unassailable edge. That is not a barrier to entry for established entities, and it is an impossibly difficult one for newcomers.

As such, a group like this one, with members on its board from some of the world’s largest corporations, for that reason alone automatically has a high likelihood of succeeding. Moreover, considering that the group is intent on establishing the regulations that say what does and does not constitute a legally acceptable 3D printed spare car part, success in this case would be no small victory. Going forward, it should gradually become easier to pick winners in the 3D printing industry by paying attention to which smaller companies are brought into the fold of all the forthcoming trade organizations, lobbying groups, think tanks, etc.

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