how 3D printing becomes the protagonist of the new course – PRINT 3D STORE

Protolabs presented the study that explores the most relevant aspects and the main challenges that the automotive industry will have to face in order to consolidate a market that by 2030 is expected to be worth 5 trillion dollars.

Investments of approximately $330 billion have already been announced in the automotive sector, between now and 2025; of these, 42 billion allocated by the German Volkswagen group, which announces the launch of 6 Gigafactories in the EU by 2030, focusing on the production of batteries. The latter, together with software, are considered the main points of differentiation in the market for electric (EV) and autonomous driving (AV) cars, as well as strategic for achieving the transition to fully green mobility.

Investments that are certainly in line with the Repowering Europe plan presented on 18 May 2022 by the European Commission as a response to the current energy crisis triggered by the current geopolitical upheavals but which has been present for several years, mainly due to the energy dependence on fossil sources of the main European countries.

The car sector, it was called, which for more than a century has based the mobility of billions of people on the (relative) convenience of fossil fuels, and which in barely 13 years has to find a way to move more and more people. and goods, as from 2035 it will no longer be possible to sell vehicles powered by petrol, diesel or gas in Europe. The amount of investment promises well, it certainly marks the way for what will be the cars of the future: electric and self-driving.

The road, although marked, does not appear to be downhill, thanks to the many factors converging as in a perfect storm: the scarcity of raw materials such as lithium and materials for the manufacture of microchips, combined with the significant increase in the transport costs, the lack of qualified personnel and the increase in energy prices, which on the one hand accelerates the green transition, but on the other hand slows it down due to the ongoing increases in production costs.

However, such a paradigm shift does not happen overnight: recharging infrastructures, batteries, new types of sensors, new increasingly connected equipment, radar and video cameras and a lot of expertise are needed. It is not by chance that hundreds of new companies are born in the world, often start-ups that see in this revolution an opportunity to create new products, which very often have very short delivery times, to quickly conquer market shares and be adopted by the big car manufacturers before others.

All this would have been unthinkable even only about ten years ago: just remember the design, construction and commissioning time of a mold for a single component, exorbitant costs to produce a few or many pieces.

By the way, and for greater clarity, digital manufacturing means the subset of manufacturing industry technologies that use automation software and a network of connected machines (e.g. traditional manufacturing sector – it will be the protagonist in the future of car production. Why? Because the sector needs extreme speed and flexibility in quantities, as well as that it must be usable throughout the life cycle of an electric and self-driving car, from component prototyping, to design validation, to the production of parts in reduced quantities intended for mechanical tests, up to the production of single spare parts, avoiding decades of inventory costs for individual pieces.

As it turns out, there is (unfortunately) no single solution to the new challenges that the revolution in the sector imposes. However, the Protolabs study tries to delve deeper into the electric and self-driving car industry and identifies some tactics that can help overcome these difficulties:

  • try to identify local suppliers to limit transport costs
  • outsource some phases of the production of a product, typically the prototype production, the production of the pre-series and the first production lots, in order to reduce the costs of molds and subsequent modifications and ultimately contain the number of pieces to reduce waste (production of request)
  • identify a single supplier that offers several technologies, including complementary ones, to reduce times and optimize the use of materials based on production technologies
  • identify a supplier that can guarantee high quality, also thanks to post-production processing services, to avoid batch re-entry and deviations that prolong testing and inspection times (and market entry, favoring competitors!)

In the report, you will also find an overview of the most important innovations already present in electric cars currently available on the market. And a short journey into the history of the electric car, which begins in 1749.

The Protolabs study is part of a series of studies, insights and investigations into the challenges faced by different sectors of the global manufacturing industry, the first of which focused on innovation in the automotive sector passing through the industry’s development potential. drones, to arrive at the study of green solutions, which the oil industry is also adopting.

The report is available on the website

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