Is the future of car manufacturing in 3D printing?


It looks like an oversized Lego construction, weighs a mere 81 kilograms (178 pounds) and is assembled from scratch in under two hours. Students of the Aalborg University in Denmark 3D-printed hundreds of parts holding together their car for the Shell Eco-marathon competition in Rotterdam. Is this the future of car manufacturing? (See related post: “It’s Not About Speed as 30th Eco-marathon Europe Begins.”)

First there was one 3D printer. With that, six other 3D printers were built. And out of those printers came bright green parts large and small made of thermoplastic filament. “All that’s green in our car is 3D printed,” Professor Soren Andreasen explains. “It’s like a giant puzzle of which we designed the pieces ourselves.”

Reasons for printing are plenty, according to Andreasen and his team. First of all, the material is cheap: 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of ABS filament costs thirty to forty euros (41 to 54 dollars). Compared to aluminum and carbon fiber, both much harder to shape in free forms, that’s a bargain.

Also, and very important in the Eco-marathon efficiency competition, its ultra-light weight. Parts that used to add a kilogram of extra weight to the car, now account for no more than 50 grams—a weight reduction of 95 percent realized by the material used and the honeycomb structure inside the parts. (See related pictures: “Inside Carmakers’ Drive for 55 MPG.”)

Last but not least, 3D printing is more flexible. If a part breaks a replacement is printed within minutes. “The car is like furniture you buy at Ikea,” says Christian Jeppensen, PhD student and team member. “Only we don’t have to go back to the store when a part is missing from the package because we can design and print it ourselves.”

Last year Aalborg University was the first team to use 3D printers to build essential parts of their car. This year Euregiorunners from the Netherlands adopted the same strategy. The Dutch used 15 table-sized 3D printers to produce a giant puzzle of 220 blocks of biodegradable polylactic acid which, put together, functioned as a mold for the carbon fiber body. The dashboard, steering wheel, air intake and some smaller parts were printed directly.

‘It took us two weeks to learn all about the process of 3D printing and another 1,500 hours to print all the parts we needed’, team leader Kenny Stinges explains. ‘It’s a time consuming process with a steep learning curve. But in the end our car is four times lighter and much cheaper than the car we built last year.’

Both teams agree that the future of all products is in 3D printing. Just last week Andreasen printed a replacement part for his vacuum cleaner at home. Others have used the technology to produce prosthetic limbs at a fraction of the cost they would have paid regular manufacturers.


it will happen..and then you dont need all the workers in the car factories do you? surplus to requirements is the phrase they use..and dont think that they will be alone..

“Both teams agree that the future of all products is in 3D printing.”

thats ALL products..not just cars..humans are being made obsolete..


~ by seeker401 on May 26, 2014.

13 Responses to “Is the future of car manufacturing in 3D printing?”

  1. 3D printing is getting more an more obtainable for the average person as well:
    3D printing for small tablets
    “This working drone was made with a 3D printing pen”

    But when they get 3D printers to print this the world as we know it will cease to exist:

    • “Unveiled in a study today, MIT scientists have crossed over to an entirely new level of bioengineering, coaxing bacterial cells to create biofilms that incorporate non-living material like gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. The result are tissues that can do way cool biological things like “respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales” while also doing handy stuff like conducting electricity or emitting light, according to a press release from the institute.”

      i dont find that to be “cool”..but thats just me..

  2. If it works and is more efficient/cheaper then go for it.

    To be honest you soundlike a latter day Luddite.

    The example of machines building machines is a bit scary though.



    • you call me a luddite..then tell me that machines building machines is “scary”??..this isnt a random post..i have followed 3d printing for 2 years..and catalogued it..i know what i am talking about and i am no fucking luddite for recognizing the destruction and loss of jobs in the future that printing “everything” in 3d printers will cause..thats called following the money..

      • in my strange life, i interact with people at nearly all levels. multiple people in the upper echelons have said to me that more than half the world’s jobs will be eliminated by automation over the next 20 years.

        the technology can be cool or uncool. the question is, does the technology actually help people, or does it hurt them?

        • “the technology can be cool or uncool. the question is, does the technology actually help people, or does it hurt them?”

          thats probably a fair assesment and a good litmus test..i am not against technology..not at all..but i do see how it will place millions out of jobs and then what do they do?..there will only be the lowest and dirtiest jobs left for the humans..3D printing will accelerate that process..its just my observation..

      • Hate to disagree with you old son, but Luddites were a group who during the early industrial revolution went around smashing automated looms because they were putting manual weavers out of work.
        At that time or shortly before, a suit of fine woven cloth, of the type we take for granted today, cost about as much as a dwelling costs us today. If you could afford more than one suit in a lifetime, you were definitely wealthy. The industrial revolution brought the cost of cloth down so far that it was within the reach of most. Overall the industrial revolution, (as it involved more than just weaving), was the start of today’s wealth that most of us enjoy today.

        However most certainly minorities such as manual weavers and later for example, the horse industry participants, unless they could retrain in a hurry, most certainly did suffer.

        In our time, the same thing happened to shorthand typists who were out of a job unless they adapted to using a computer and wordprocessing software.

        I trust you understand that our wealth today, is not because we get more money, but a combination of our increased productivity (using machines) and the fall in the price of goods and services that are produced by those same machines.

        So you see, to criticise a new method of production, is exactly the same thinking as the Luddites of old. A totally arcane and unproductive philosophy.

        If I were a car worker, I would start looking around for some retraining ASAP. Maybe a course on 3D printing wouldn’t be so silly.

        I can say this with authority, because I was once a car worker, but early mid career I took the trouble to attend university and ended up at the upper side of the computer revolution. Retraining is what today’s life is all about.



        PS Of course the Greens and UN Agenda 21 are intent of returning us to pre Industrial Revolution status. Maybe we should all take a course in plowing pasture using horse power or something similar.

      I am a luddite. You might find yourself closer to their position than you think, rogerthesurf, if only you knew what they actually were about.

      • NomNomNom,

        I read your article.

        Maybe the actual motivations of the Luddites and like minded people were actually different from what we generally regard them as today. However I am using the word “Luddite” in the form as it is generally understood today.



      • “Getting past the myth and seeing their protest more clearly is a reminder that it’s possible to live well with technology—but only if we continually question the ways it shapes our lives. It’s about small things, like now and then cutting the cord, shutting down the smartphone and going out for a walk. But it needs to be about big things, too, like standing up against technologies that put money or convenience above other human values.

        thats what i am talking about..

  3. Reblogged this on Spartan of Truth.

  4. I think the Car Companies are cooking their books ………

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: