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Advancements in 3D Printing And The Auto World – What’s Next?

by Steve Dearborn

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, has the potential, given recent developments in the technology, to transform the way that products will be designed, developed and manufactured in the future. An article issues by the Deloitte University Press states that this new technology may be used for product innovation and high volume manufacturing, and will likely benefit automotive industry production.

What Is 3D Printing?

AM or 3D printing is any one of a group of processes used to produce three-dimensional objects. Under computer control, material is laid down in successive layers to make an object, which can be of almost any shape or size, using an electronic data source for instruction. The industrial robots used to perform these processes are called 3D printers.

The term “3D printing” originated with a printing process using ink jet printer heads in which material was deposited into a powder bed in a specific sequence. The term was expanded to apply to processes that produce three-dimensional objects, and “additive manufacturing” is now the standard technical and engineering term for this technology.

Is It Possible That We Will Be Able to Print Parts for Cars?

Not only does AM technology have the potential to revolutionize the way automotive parts are designed and manufactured, but it can also completely transform the way they are distributed, as discussed in the Deloitte University Press article. The writer speculates that 3D printing can increase availability of parts and reduce delivery time in the aftermarket segment of the industry.

Most parts distributors currently stock only commonly used auto parts, in order to reduce the cost of inventory. With AM, parts suppliers can produce automotive components on demand and on location. This can drastically reduce the cost of inventory and enable suppliers to deliver less commonly used parts much more rapidly.

For parts on out-of-production models, where computer-aided designs (CAD) files are not available, 3D scanners can be used to create CAD files from which 3D printing can produce the components. The article speculates that, at some point in the future, consumers may be able to buy digital designs for specific parts and then print them out through local service bureaus or on their own personal AM devices.

Workplace Accidents in the Automotive Industry

Regardless of the technology in use, work-related injuries occur in manufacturing and all facets of the automotive industry. If you have been injured on the job, it is in your best interests to consult with a knowledgeable Richmond workers’ compensation attorney.

Although the workers’ compensation program is a no-fault system designed to protect injured workers, obtaining benefits after an injury is not always as easy as it should be. Legal firms such as Marks & Harrison work on these cases. Workers’ compensation is an insurance program, and the costs of benefits paid out to injured workers are passed along to employers in their premiums. Employers have their own bottom line to protect.

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