Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Transportation Technology

Developing 3D-Printing Tech for Cars (medium.com) 75

New submitter kynthelig writes: There are a hundred reasons why 3D printed cars might not work. But that's true of almost any great idea in tech. A few automotive entrepreneurs have developed a vision — along with actual physical cars — that rethink the assumptions about how cars get built. The result has a smaller environmental footprint than either conventional or electric cars, allows for faster innovation, and retools car manufacturing into a local, community-oriented business. The car revolution isn't just in automating them: it's also in how we build them.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Developing 3D-Printing Tech for Cars

Comments Filter:
  • I'd be overjoyed to have control that data.

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:13PM (#51315803) Homepage

    Cardboard also has a lower environmental impact than all that crap they use for cars.

    That does not imply that if I built a car out of cardboard that could pass safety regulations, it would still have a lower environmental impact. All that required equipment might be the big factor there, not the legendary inefficiency of automobile production lines. ;)

    • The East German Trabant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] came close to this...

      "...with the roof, trunk lid, hood, fenders, and doors made of Duroplast. Duroplast was a hard plastic (similar to Bakelite) made of recycled materials: cotton waste from the Soviet Union and phenol resins from the East German dye industry. This made the Trabant the first car with a body made of recycled material..."

      • Modern crumple zones are really effective, and they're basically layers of cardboard made from sheet metal. I'll bet you could make a decent crumple zone with resin and cotton, but I doubt you would save money or reduce environmental impact.

  • My company makes 3d printed drones. We win.
  • Smokin too much super grass.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:48PM (#51315875)

    I'm surprised that there's not a market in refurbished cars.

    Accident free models with no frame problems or known gremlins. Go over the mechanicals with a fine toothed comb, put the suspension wear parts back to new, make sure all the systems work and work within new specs. Swap out the interior with a new interior -- seats, headliner, console, maybe even dash and instrumentation. Paint the body and replace any worn parts.

    Make the car nearly new appearance wise. I'm sure it's a ton of labor, which is why I would kind of expect some kind of cottage industry in India (like shipbreaking). The parts might be expensive, but the idea would be to put in aftermarket components as much as possible, and maybe at some kind of scale build your own and build in upgrades to dash/electronics.

    Maybe it's all unrealistic, but I do know there is a cottage industry in rebuilding insurance writeoffs. I knew a guy whose business it was to buy insurance wrecks, repair or rebuild them and then sell them. I saw a couple and they were really nice and cheaper than used models of the same age.

    I just think the carmakers like Toyota have built some increadibly durable cars that often wear out not because the drivetrain is worn out, but because the interior is shot, the paint is faded. Refurbished (with good attention to the drivetrain) it'd be like new, especially if the interior had infotainment upgrades.

    • First of all, nobody really cares about the infotainment except a few Americans who want to bragg to their friends about how their infotainment is better.

      Toyota makes some good stuff like the Hilux that will last at least 20 years and will clock up at least 300k+ kms. If the interior is 'shot' the seats just need to be cleaned and re-upholstered, even the underlying foam and springs are still ok.

      Where 3D printing comes in is for recreating essential plastic components (like the covers for the timing
    • If by infotainment upgrades you mean getting out of the way sure. I want a quality daylight readable touchscreen for the center console, steering wheel controls and HUD. Couple that with some software defined radios, enough that I can receive GPS and a few other positional data, at least one FM/AM/SW receiver and a the two cell phone networks (not a full phone just enough that connected via BT/WIFI/USB a phone could use it probably have to work like a femtocell at first). Reason being I want a real anten

      • So, what kind of car are you going to graft all that stuff into? Because nobody is going to sell you that.

        • Lets think apple carplay is a lot of this and all over the 2016 models.

          • Lets think apple carplay is a lot of this and all over the 2016 models.

            Except it's the opposite of this, since it's tied to a specific device, doesn't give you control over any SDRs, etc.

            • Android Auto it takes over the existing touchscreen and has access to the cars gps, steering wheel controls etc etc. If it catches on I expect more devices will become built into the car or as aftermarket addons (probably via BT).

              • Yes, Android Auto is much closer to your vision than Apple Carplay, if for no other reason than that Android isn't completely under the control of Google. In theory, you should be able to get more or less any Android device with adequate graphics drivers to participate, so perhaps you could use AOSP (or similar) on hardware of your own specification.

                I mention the graphics drivers because Tegra3 can't do screencast because it's not in the drivers, in spite of being able to run LP... This is something you wil

    • What you're talking about is restoring an old car, and that's expensive even with cheap aftermarket replacement parts. You're right: the labour will be killing. For example: instead of painting the car at the optimum moment during assembly, you'll have to remove a bunch of stuff from the car, mask the rest, sand fill and otherwise prepare the surfaces by hand, paint, then re-fit whatever you removed. That doesn't lend itself well to scaling up or automation. That's why there's only two reasons why people c
    • I'm surprised that there's not a market in refurbished cars.

      There is, depending on how you define 'refurbished', but beyond a certain point it's just not worth it. You can get a brand spanking new car for about $13k. The labor to refurbish a car is, at least in the USA, Europe, and other high-cost areas, fairly expensive. The problem is that it requires a lot more labor. For example, automation and doing it during the assembly process means that you don't need to mask of a car in order to paint it anywhere near as much as you do for an aftermarket job.

      By the tim

    • You can't make it feel new without replacing every bushing, and every scrap of interior, and then you still wind up with a vehicle with miles on it and thus a higher risk of part failure. Cars aren't designed to make this easy, so it is very expensive. It's far cheaper to just recycle the car. If we start making more cars out of Aluminum, it will get even cheaper, because it's cheaper to recycle than steel. On the other hand, we don't have a recycling plan for carbon fiber or other composites at all, and th

  • by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @07:55PM (#51315899)

    3D printing hype is getting out of hand.

    Why would anyone buy an unfinished looking $53,000 3D-printed car like THIS [engadget.com], when you could buy a 500+ horsepower 2016 Shelby GT350 for about the same price? The resale value alone would make the 3D printed choice foolish.

    If 3D printing was as promising as this article makes it sound, then why can't I buy individual parts like custom 3D printed hoods? It's certainly more realistic to buy individual parts than 3d printing an "entire" car. It's just not anywhere close to being cost effective.

    • 3D printing for individual parts is to the point where the 3D printers can manufacture useful parts. Most major car manufacturers have a 3D printer farm hidden away somewhere for rapid prototyping (it reduces the the turn around time from going to a machine shop).

      The issue is the 3D printers can't manufacture parts fast enough to keep up with demand of a production floor. To produce one part at the volumes needed the car manufacturer would need a huge farm of 3D printers and technicians to keep the printe
    • If 3D printing was as promising as this article makes it sound, then why can't I buy individual parts like custom 3D printed hoods? It's certainly more realistic to buy individual parts than 3d printing an "entire" car. It's just not anywhere close to being cost effective.

      There's a fuel injection part for at least one of Boeing's jet engines that is now entirely 3D printed. It enabled them to save a rather ridiculous amount of work to produce the part in the traditional way - which involved multiple weld and grind operations to get the right shape.

      But as was mentioned elsewhere, for most parts this is more expensive, starting with that most parts are designed for traditional manufacturing methods. Start designing parts that take advantage of the benefits of 3D printing tec

  • Local, community-oriented businesses are total BS. This will never get off the ground for anyone other than the present big car companies and only in 20 or 30 years when their present assembly lines wear out. The government already has so many rules and regulations regarding the design, building and testing of cars that many fine cars in use overseas can not be sold in the USA. And I am talking about cars and trucks built by companies like Toyota, Volkswagen and other big names who can only afford to revi
    • Where would I find the rules and regulations?
      • They are buried in the "Code of Federal Regulations" (CFR). This is what makes them so hard to comply with. There may be a dozen regulations within the regulations put out by the EPA concerning things like exhaust requirements, allowable gases to use in air conditioning systems and so on. Then others relating to, say, crash worthiness somewhere else under a different department like the Transportation Safety Department. As a result finding all of the regulations pertaining to manufacturing a car requires
    • many fine cars in use overseas can not be sold in the USA

      Such as?

      • Toyota Hilux is the first one I thought of. The smaller trucks like the ford ranger.

        • Toyota Hilux is the first one I thought of. The smaller trucks like the ford ranger.

          That's what I thought too. But the reason those vehicles aren't in the US has to do with the market and not government regulation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would!

  • If you take an infinite number of 3D printers, they will eventually make a decent car.

  • by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @08:50PM (#51316033)
    I asked my car, it said it was not interested in 3D printing.
  • What 3D printers could be used for which parts?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's that? There might not be 3D printed cars for hundreds of reasons? Boy that was an embarrassing phase of human history when we thought we'd 3D print ourselves across the galaxy. Now we're back to normal!

    QA was right again!

  • by thestuckmud ( 955767 ) on Saturday January 16, 2016 @10:03PM (#51316225)

    Watch this video [youtube.com] of BMW's I3 factory building new tech vehicles in a new tech factory. Now read TFA and learn that Divergent Technologies process doesn't use 3D-printing for the bodies (too heavy) or even the vast bulk of the chassis - the hyped 3D-process is for glorified lugs (they term them "nodes") used to build a tube frame. Consider the relatively tiny contribution of lugs to the assembly of a fully equipped car and it makes very little difference how those lugs are produced.

    Then there's the claim that by printing different styles of lug (and some other parts, but not the bulk of the car) they can easily switch from building one type of car to another. If this is not wishful thinking intended to attract gullible investors, I don't what it is. To make effective use of this, they would need a super-agile assembly line stocked with most of the parts needed for all the vehicles they will possible build. The article admits that 3D-printing doesn't solve the majority of parts needs.

    There's also the notion that by 3D-printing parts, replacement parts can be made on demand without special tooling. This is a very good point, and undoubtedly one that traditional car manufacturers are starting to look into, even for parts that may have been cast or otherwised conventionally produced for vehicle production.

    Lastly, there's the anti-EV nonsense from Kevin Czinger, Divergent's CEO. Let me say that I believe his 1500lb natural gas-powered concept car has a lower environmental impact a Tesla SUV recharged off today's power grid. Today's electric cars are not a clear win when charged with coal generated electricity. Especially when you consider a heavy EV with very large batteries like that Tesla. The real promise of electric vehicles is their ability to use - and drive the development of - renewable sources of electricity. Green cars of the future will have to be both light and shun fossil fuels.

    • It's true about electric cars in general, where I live in the USA they get about 35-40 mpg equivelant. However regenerative braking basically recoups the losses from the heavier vehicles such that a leaf and tesla get roughly the same "mileage" when driven in a similar fashion.
      • It's true about electric cars in general, where I live in the USA they get about 35-40 mpg equivelant.

        Source?

        My i3 is rated at 138 MPGe (that's city driving which is 90+% of its use). As I said, carbon generated when recharging from a coal-burning power plant is far worse than that MPGe number suggests, but 35-40? Maybe in India (which burns mostly coal). Doubtful in the US.

        City mileage for Teslas run about 2/3 that of the best BEVs. Still good mileage by most people's standards, and off the charts when compared with similar performance gas powered cars. The i3 vs. Tesla numbers turn around on the

        • source [ucsusa.org]

          So if you lived in upstate New York or even California you are doing well, but in much of the Midwest driving an electric is like driving an efficient gas vehicle at least with regards to co2 per mile. It's obvious as the majority of power comes from coal and natural gas in this region and not hydro, nuclear and other renewables which makes up a bigger part of the better areas. Also given that new power plant installations take decades it's certain these numbers are relatively predictable over the
          • I respect the source you quoted (Union of Concerned Scientists). Here are some key findings from that paper:

            "Nearly half (45 percent) of Americans live in BEST regions—where an EV has lower global warming emissions than a 50 mpg gasoline-powered vehicle, topping even the best gasoline hybrids on the market."

            "Some 38 percent of Americans live in BETTER regions where an electric vehicle has the equivalent global warming emissions of a 41 to 50 mpg gasoline vehicle, similar to the best gasoline hybri

            • Where I said I live they get 35-40. This is true. I didn't say everyone, people in the Midwest get 35-40. And the 50mpg, while great, isn't the 110+ to infinite some people think.
    • Watch this video of BMW's I3 factory building new tech vehicles in a new tech factory. Now read TFA and learn that Divergent Technologies process doesn't use 3D-printing for the bodies (too heavy) or even the vast bulk of the chassis - the hyped 3D-process is for glorified lugs (they term them "nodes") used to build a tube frame.

      What is interesting about the i3 isn't the use of 3d printed parts at all. What makes it interesting is the lack of use of stamped metal sheets. Because it's a small-run vehicle, not creating that tooling saves them enough money to where it's actually cheaper to make the vehicle out of carbon fiber. Their particular process saves having to produce expensive one-piece molds that have driven up the costs of other vehicles which contain structural carbon fiber.

      Then there's the claim that by printing different styles of lug (and some other parts, but not the bulk of the car) they can easily switch from building one type of car to another. If this is not wishful thinking intended to attract gullible investors, I don't what it is. To make effective use of this, they would need a super-agile assembly line stocked with most of the parts needed for all the vehicles they will possible build. The article admits that 3D-printing doesn't solve the majority of parts needs.

      They can simply reduce their parts count to achiev

  • They just don't get it... The advantage of 3D printing is that you can print 1 of something with no upfront cost. The problem is that printing one is costs the same per print as printing1,000,000 of something, meaning there's no economy of scale. When cars are made in the hundreds of thousands, economy of scale is the difference between a 200K honda accord and a 20K honda accord,
    • As someone said earlier in the comments, auto manufacturers might start using 3d printers for a few parts just because of supply chain issues.

      Just In Time manufacturing is all about minimizing inventory of inputs and work in progress. The problem is an inconsistent or unresponsive supply chain can royally f*** that up. So you have to keep a large amount of that part in stock. Depending on inventory holding costs, and the general pita that is dealing with late suppliers it might be worth it to consider ju

      • "So you have to keep a large amount of that part in stock." That part in stock are bags of plactic chips, and spools of plastic. What's to stop the manufacturer from building something else for someone else. For example, Furniture, or Hand Tools?
        • "So you have to keep a large amount of that part in stock." That part in stock are bags of plactic chips, and spools of plastic. What's to stop the manufacturer from building something else for someone else. For example, Furniture, or Hand Tools?

          Not necessarily. Half the time when they're talking about 3d printing like this they're referring to SLS, or printing metal. Your feed stock is this metal powder that these hundred thousand dollar (minimum) printers use.

          Now back to your question. It's the Auto manufacturers that we're talking about. They make cars. Sure they could use those printers to make other things, but that's not their core competency. The big thing is that 3d printing is expensive and takes a while. Here's an example:

          GM requir

    • No economy of scale - hahahaha. Cant you just print more 3D printers and use those to print more 3D printers? In a few weeks a single printing facility could surpass the output of India and China combined! I'm not sure how these 3D printing companies actually sell more than 1 unit before going out of business.
    • What value is Economy of Scale when the manufacturing site is my garage, and I only want to build one unit? Because next week, my wife wants a different style of door knob for her kitchen.
  • Just add a few hyped tech subjects together in one subject line and you're sure to get your clicks!

    Why not add 'self driving' as well. 3D printed self driving cars that you order and find their way to your doorstep without human intervention! Profit!

    In reality, as every 3D printer owner knows, 3D printers are just great for prototyping one offs. As soon as you want volumes you turn to different modes of production.

Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?

Working...