Newsroom
 / Magazine / 
Additive Manufacturing
Industrialization of Additive Manufacturing in the Automotive Sector
  • 806-0-0
06.02.2020

Market Reports from CENIT’s Technology Experts

Industrialization of Additive Manufacturing in the Automotive Sector

Additive manufacturing is an ideal match for today’s experience economy in which customers expect customized, unique encounters made available to them instantly. As a key industry, the automotive sector is already integrating additive manufacturing techniques into serial production. CENIT expert Thorsten Kroll offers us a summary assessment of current progress. As application consultant, he serves OEMs as well as supplier businesses.

For some time now, automobile makers have been leaving traditional prototyping behind, turning instead to additive manufacturing and setting the agenda for further steps along this path.

Links to standard processes

These primarily concern topics such as rapid tooling and direct repair. We are also seeing moves toward use for heavily customized components in the premium segment.

Additive manufacturing is an ideal match for today’s experience economy in which customers expect customized, unique encounters made available to them instantly.

Three aspects of the current trend should be noted:

  • Additive processes are being combined with established manufacturing methods, making them considerably more efficient.
  • Via processes like CLIP (continuous liquid interface production) or MJF (multi-jet fusion), additive manufacturing is finding its way into serial manufacturing.
  • This is helped by start-ups that are able to introduce new technologies due to expiring patents.

A further argument for predictive analytics in manufacturing

Predictive analytics, or the ability to predict the material properties and failure of machinery or components, will grow more important. It’s difficult to evaluate components created by additive manufacturing when they replace entire assembly groups with multiple individual parts. However, if the process parameters (machine and material) are known, predictions about component quality can be made on this basis.

First and foremost, we are seeing endeavors to raise the degree of automation throughout the overall process and to avoid unnecessary interfaces. The key goal is digital continuity. Over the years, our clients have gained plenty of on-the-ground experience and therefore have an excellent grasp of the machinery and the procedural steps. We support businesses in joining the puzzle pieces across the entire process, boosting efficiency along the way.

ROI can be achieved

If you’re considering taking steps into this new world of manufacturing, you’ll not only want to know about the benefits, but also about the costs. At the end of the day, every innovation has to be worth the investment.

Generative manufacturing no doubt offers very good conditions for an attractive ROI trajectory, but of course this depends on having the right strategy for the situation at hand.

You have to look at overall costs. Already, it’s a good deal less expensive to use additive manufacturing to make complex components or component elements, e.g. tempered tools, and then use conventional processes to refinish them.

Our clients also have very interesting options available to them in the field of spare parts management. There is considerable potential in using additive manufacturing and intelligent supplier process chains to produce parts on site, instead of traditional warehousing and shipment.

In this context, one should also bear in mind that no import tax is incurred when sending a data set to another country.

Introduction requires concepts for process updates and transfer of knowhow

Anyone wishing to use additive manufacturing needs to adopt additive thinking, and that’s quite a tall order. In my experience, it’s easy to underestimate certain aspects of successful implementation.

The goal has to be to establish new processes not just for workflows and data, but also for the people working with them. That requires training and workshops – and sometimes enhanced team interaction.

Anyone wishing to use additive manufacturing needs to adopt additive thinking, and that’s quite a tall order. In my experience, it’s easy to underestimate certain aspects of successful implementation.

Even if you’ve planned ahead perfectly, you may encounter unexpected hurdles in terms of methodology for design and development of the individual components. Additive manufacturing brings on tasks that can be new and demanding even for seasoned engineers.

These challenges can be overcome! As an application consultant, I have already helped clients reach their objectives in a series of complex projects. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions! Just send me a message at t.kroll@cenit.com.

3D printing needs plenty of knowhow – and a partner like CENIT

 As long ago as the early 1990s, CENIT began assisting car makers in finding their way into the world of rapid prototyping. Since then we have also been active in this manufacturing sector as a partner for successful digital transformation. CENIT stands out in the market thanks to our experienced experts, mature solutions and broad range of knowhow – all the must-haves for industrialized additive manufacturing. Our clients benefit from our involvement in application-oriented research projects and our close association with an industry and research network (incl. Fraunhofer IAPT, ZAL …). CENIT supports businesses in engineering, simulation, virtual commissioning, manufacturing, process analysis and measurement data processing.

Our services at a glance:

Below, please find a sample list of topics on which we would be pleased to send you further information:

  • Slicers and support structure generators based on exact geometry (CAD Solid): considerable improvements in data processing vis a vis purely STL-based tools that work with approximate component geometry
  • Data integration: Metadata formats like AutomationML help overcome media interruptions in the additive manufacturing process chain.
  • Hybrid manufacturing: Post-processing with traditional milling machinery or robots requires software tools that keep programming effort to a minimum.
  • When is it worthwhile to deploy robots in additive manufacturing? Cost and process benefits result e.g. from avoiding support structures by using multi-axis 3D printing of plastic (FDM) or metal (DED). Also good to know: For the robot/workpiece positioner combinations required in such setups, we offer you a high-powered offline programming solution that fully satisfies the increased requirements for control program generation.

Interested? Please get in touch with us at myquestion@cenit.com