As a further sign that 3D printing and additive manufacturing are on the rise, the engineers at Chevrolet used this technology on the new 2014 Chevy Malibu. The design phase of the completely redesigned interior of the Malibu utilized 3D printing in several unique ways, mainly through the use of laser sintering and stereo lithography.
Instead of having to mold and shape the interior using clay, engineers utilized 3D printers to quickly and easily manufacture their designs. The process took a few days compared to the weeks it would take to traditionally mold interior designs.
Todd Pawlik, one of the chief engineers at Chevrolet stated, “When you need to get intricate, fully functional prototype parts quickly, nothing beats rapid prototyping. Our ability to rapidly fabricate inexpensive prototype parts throughout a vehicle enables key components to get confirmed earlier so that we can go from computer models to production-caliber parts.”
The team at Chevrolet utilized 3D printing in nearly all the facets of the interior design work for the new Malibu. Many of the prototypes were done on a small scale to first test out each component and they were able to quickly and inexpensively create new designs on the fly.
Among the newly designed elements were the center stack and console as well as the front fascia and the rear seat panels. As Pawlik suggests, Chevrolet sees the benefits of utilizing 3D printing in more than just the design phase.
Auto manufacturers are quickly catching on to the many benefits of 3D printing, particularly when it comes to looking at the overall cost, ease of design and quick production. Many manufacturers are now using 3D printers to quickly create small parts for vehicles and it is expected that this trend is going to continue.
This is great news for mechanical engineering students, particularly those with a focus in automotive technologies. The demand for capable engineers with this type of experience is only going to increase over the next several years. As more manufacturers accept this new way of creating parts and designs for vehicles, demand is expected to remain at a high level for the foreseeable future.
Are you interested in learning more about an exciting career in mechanical engineering or 3D printing? Ask the experts at Solopoint for more information today!