How 3D Printing Is Accelerating Electric Vehicles Industry

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular as the world moves towards reducing carbon emissions. As a result, all major automobile companies are actively working on developing electric vehicles, and 3D printing is playing a critical role in helping them speed up the process.

This technology opens up a plethora of possibilities for EV manufacturing. It can help create prototype parts quickly, essential for testing new designs and technologies.

Additionally, it allows companies to produce small-batch orders of components, which is necessary for a market that is still in its infancy.

Additive manufacturing plays a game-changing role in the design validation and verification of electric vehicles. Many parts that go into an EV need to be custom-made, and 3D printing is the perfect technology for producing them. It helps engineers quickly iterate designs to achieve optimum performance.

3d printing
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Both additive manufacturing and EV manufacturing are attractive, rapidly evolving domains. However, as the execution is happening substantially, it isn’t easy to understand all the intricacies. It is where 3D printers come in, as it helps to optimise the entire process.

How 3D Printing Helps EV Manufacturers Gain An Edge?

The entire EV manufacturing ecosystem is highly dynamic, and the process is still evolving. This service helps speed up the process by offering a fast, efficient and scalable way to produce custom parts.

It provides a great way to integrate new technologies and design concepts into production. Additionally, it helps companies to reduce their time to market. Additive manufacturing helps manufacturers with:

Faster Design Iteration

Performing design iterations with conventional manufacturing methods is expensive and time-consuming. With 3D print solutions, EV companies can quickly try out new designs and concepts to see if they work. As a result, it helps enhance the quality of your products and reduces the chances of failure.

The time required from design to actual production is also reduced. Three-D printing helps you go from concept to product in a fraction of the time it takes using traditional methods.

Reduced Manufacturing Costs

Traditional manufacturing methods are expensive and require a lot of setup time and resources. However, this advanced production method is a much more cost-effective way to produce small batches of parts. Along with this, additive processes also help to reduce the time required for production.

It helps to increase the efficiency of your manufacturing process. It allows you to produce complex parts that are difficult to make with traditional methods. Also, this advancement reduces material wastage and improves product quality.

Electric vehicle manufacturing is a complex process that requires a lot of tooling and engineers often need to manually operate them. However, the workforce can speed up the manufacturing operations with 3d printers as the tooling dependency is less. Thus, it helps manufacturers save time and money spent on manual operations.

Greater Design Flexibility

It brings a high degree of design flexibility, which is essential for the EV industry. Many parts in EVs are of intricate geometry; this technology offers a great way to integrate new design concepts into production.

Also, the overall design communication is improved. 3-dimensional manufacturing helps companies share their designs among teams efficiently. You can create physical models of your parts that are easy to understand and communicate.

Substantial Scope for Innovation

EV manufacturers focus more on creating futuristic & practical designs to stand apart from the rest. Whether vehicle’s doors, battery placement, or interior aesthetics, additive processes help turn their innovative ideas into a reality.

As manufacturers can produce lightweight, safer parts, it gives them a competitive edge over others regarding cost and vehicle design. 3D printing helps manufacturers cut down the number of parts required in an electric vehicle.

It, in turn, results in a reduction in weight and manufacturing time. It also minimises the chances of human error, as each 3D-printed part is made to perfection.

Quick efficiency testing:

Additive manufacturing helps companies test components’ design efficiency with rapid prototyping. The parts can include battery casing, vehicle’s body, or functional braking system.

Manufacturers can try different materials and designs to find the best fit for the vehicle depending on the requirements. In addition, the overall parts testing becomes more accessible with additive manufacturing.

Instead of weeks or months, companies can test and improvise parts in a few days. This advantage brings more flexibility and agility to the company to work at scale.

What 3D Printers Can Manufacture?

3d printing
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EV manufacturers are actively leveraging these advanced services to streamline various operations with higher agility. Some of the critical aspects are:

Car Shell Manufacturing:

One of the critical areas where this tech is being extensively used for electric vehicles is the manufacturing of car shells. It helps to reduce the cost and time of prototyping.

Prototyping and testing the fully-ready car is an expensive affair with conventional manufacturing. 3-Dimensional printing helps to reduce the number of iterations and speed up the entire process. With the help of 3d printers, it is feasible for companies to print a large number of shells for testing and ship in a short time.

Mass Customisation:

3D printing is also used for mass customisation of car parts. It helps to produce unique and one-of-a-kind components without the need for expensive tooling.

It is a significant advantage for electric vehicle companies as it allows them to cater to the needs of individual customers.

You can create any design or shape and personalise it according to the customer’s needs. It increases the appeal of electric vehicles and helps to differentiate them from the competition.

The market for vehicle customisation is massive, and to cater to customers’ needs at scale, 3D printing is the need of the hour.

3D Printed Component:

This manufacturing process for electric vehicles is not just restricted to car shells and mass customisation. You can also find many 3D printed components in electric cars. Some of the most common are brackets, fasteners, gears and AC ducts.

It helps to reduce the weight of these components and increases their strength and durability. The best part about 3d printed components is that they are cost-effective and can be produced in high volumes.

Heat Resistant Battery Fixtures:

One of the most substantial challenges for electric vehicles is to keep the battery cool. The high-temperature environment can cause damage to the battery and shorten its life.

3D printers are used to produce heat-resistant battery fixtures that can withstand high temperatures. These fixtures help to dissipate the heat and keep the battery cool.

Fixtures are made from lightweight and durable materials that can withstand extreme temperatures. It helps to improve the performance and life of the battery. It’s essential to keep the batteries running at an optimum temperature to get the most out of them.

Wide Range of Materials:

This technology offers a wide range of custom materials used for electric vehicles. OEMs can find a variety of materials such as plastic, metal, rubber and composites.

Each additive printing material has its pros and characteristics, and 3d printers allow OEMs to use multiple materials in a single print job.

As a result, it gives companies the flexibility to choose the best material for the task. It also helps to reduce the manufacturing time and cost. Moreover, it’s quick for engineers to prepare custom materials to meet the specific requirements of electric vehicles.

Moulds For Casting Parts:

3D printing is also used to create moulds for casting parts. It helps to reduce the time and cost associated with traditional methods.

The use of three-dimensional printing allows companies to produce custom-shaped moulds. It also helps produce moulds in high volumes and at a fraction of the cost. It makes it a viable option for electric vehicle manufacturers.

As CNC machining is expensive for producing moulds in limited quantities, additive technologies help to fill the gap.

It also offers a wide range of materials that companies can use for mould manufacturing. When it comes to mass manufacturing through injection moulding, 3d printing is an ideal technology for master mould creation.

It becomes easier to produce high-quality moulds without any defects using additive manufacturing. As a result, it helps improve the finished product quality and meet the stringent requirements of electric vehicles.

Inventory Digitisation:

Companies don’t need to mass-manufacture parts and store them for future use with this technology. As OEMs can print parts on-demand, it becomes easier to manage the inventory. As a result, it helps to reduce the manufacturing time and cost.

Designers can prepare CAD files and prepare the digital inventory accessible to everyone across the team. It improves the supply chain by reducing the number of components that need to be stocked.

The logistics supply chain is an ever-growing overhead for companies, and 3D printing can help to reduce it. Additive manufacturing eases the logistics overhead by helping to produce parts on-demand.

Enhanced Braking System:

This tech is also used to produce brake parts for electric vehicles. The use of additive manufacturing helps improve the brake system’s performance and life.

It allows companies to create custom-shaped brake parts. It helps to improve the braking performance of the electric vehicle.

Materials like titanium, aluminium and stainless steel are used to manufacture brake parts. They are solid and lightweight, which helps improve the braking performance of the electric vehicle. It allows manufacturers to produce brake parts in large volumes and at a reduced cost.

Futuristic Aesthetics:

3D printing produces body panels and other exterior parts for electric vehicles. It helps improve the aesthetics of the car and makes it look futuristic. It also helps create body panels in bulk and at a fraction of the cost.

Three-dimensional printing allows companies to explore new design possibilities for electric vehicles. It also helps create innovative exterior designs that can set your product apart from the competition. It strengthens the company’s brand image and helps to attract customers.

The Use of Additive Manufacturing Will Surge as EV Demand Rises:

The use of 3D printers is expected to surge as the demand for electric vehicles rises. It is because additive technology offers several benefits to electric vehicle manufacturers.

As more companies are competing for launching the best EV in the market, 3D printing will become an essential part of their manufacturing process.

Electric vehicles are the future of transportation, and all automobile companies will eventually shift to complete EV manufacturing. Additive technologies accelerate this process as it’s cost-efficient, safer, and faster. 3D printing plays a critical role in helping the electric vehicles industry grow and succeed.

Companies are investing substantial capital in the development of additive technologies. They are aware that it is the future of manufacturing, and they need to adopt it if they want to remain ahead in the industry.

It’s only a matter of time before all companies shift to complete EV manufacturing, and 3D printing will remain at the core of this process.

As this technology becomes mainstream, the cost of electric vehicles will drop, making them more accessible to the public.

As more customers are interested in owning an EV, 3d printing opens up several opportunities for increasing production. It’s a win-win for both the customer and the manufacturer.

The additive manufacturing process is evolving fast, and it’s only going to get better in the future. It’s a sustainable approach toward manufacturing that will benefit both the environment and the economy.

Wrapping Up!

3D printing is helping the electric vehicles industry grow and succeed. Companies are actively working with additive technologies to simplify their complex processes.

All automobile companies will shift to electric vehicle manufacturing, and additive processes will become mainstream. It’s a cost-efficient, faster, and safer approach to manufacturing EVs.

In the future, additive manufacturing will help strengthen the entire EV ecosystem. From the manufacturing process to customer satisfaction, additive technologies will play a critical role in the growth of electric vehicles.

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A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A GD&T practitioner, with expertise in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Crazy about exploring CAD-CAM tools and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.