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The Rise of 3D Printing Technology
An Answer to the Unstoppable EV Industry

23 March 2023

- The market for 3D printing technology in the global automotive industry keeps growing steadily.

  - In addition to changing the way traditional cars are designed and manufactured, it also drives the development of the electric vehicle industry as leading EV manufacturers are partnering up with 3D printing companies to speed up the design, development and customization of their cars.

- It helps reduce the cost, cut down the weight of electric cars, and stimulate the market growth to meet the needs of consumers and is also environmentally friendly.

The application of 3D printing in the electric vehicle (EV) industry varies from each manufacturer to the next. Some manufacturers are now using 3D printing instead of traditional process to make their EVs. At the same time, many manufacturers are using this 3D printing technology to make batteries, components and parts since it greatly reduces costs and expenses, thereby making EVs more affordable and accessible to consumers.

Additionally, 3D printing technology allows for mass customization without increasing costs. It allows manufacturers to customize their designs according to the needs of diverse target consumers, thus can be used as an appropriate marketing tool to attract buyers to switch to EVs.

Meanwhile, 3D printers are enabling engineers to develop low-cost EV batteries With a 50% reduction in material costs. The 3D printers used to make the first generation of EV batteries was simple, but was able to print a variety of materials including metal and ceramic fibers. It is expected that the next generation of 3D printers will be able to facilitate the larger mass production of batteries.

Another benefit of 3D printing technology is it allows EV manufacturers to reduce the volume of their production to a smaller, controllable scale. This benefit clearly overcomes the need to set up a large and expensive factory. Therefore, more companies are now setting up small facilities at various locations across the region, and distribute their jobs from the headquarters by sending plans digitally, making supply chains more efficient and sustainable.

3D printing technology can also reduce the burden of warehouses and costly inventory by supplying spare parts with Digital Twin Printing. This is the concept of copying or replicating physical things into digital form with a connecting mechanism to the object, so it is equivalent to moving real objects into the virtual world.

Clearly, 3D printing technology is playing an increasingly important role in the EV industry because the current market share of EV is about 4%. Therefore, EV manufacturers will regularly launch new models in a short period of time to create and maintain consumer demand as well as encourage the market to continue to be active.

Another advantage of 3D printing technology is its ability to print various materials into complex shapes which is impossible with traditional production process. It also helps produce parts that are lighter and stronger. As a result, EVs can weigh much less without its quality or safety being compromised. This lighter weights also ultimately leads to better fuel economy. More importantly, these EV parts are also made from environmentally friendly and recyclable materials.

A clear example is XEV, an Italian-Hong Kong startup who produces EVs from 3D printing technology by combining additive manufacturing with smart city mobility. With the introduction of additive manufacturing and the integration of BigRep PRO 3D printer from Germany into the XEV production line, limited and resource-intensive tooling is no longer needed. This results in flexible and efficient production processes because 3D printing needs fewer components, can upgrade at a faster rate, reduces production cycles and production costs significantly. Their YOYO model uses only 57 pieces of components (the non-3D-printed components include the chassis, seats and mirrors). The 3D-printed materials used are performance-enhanced nylon, polylactic acid and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

To delve deeper into 3D printing technology, please follow the ME Blogs to get updates on the latest news and developments of technologies related to the mold and die industry. For value customer who are interesting, you can pre-register now and please don’t forget to mark your calendar for "InterMold Thailand 2023" during 21-24 June 2023 at BITEC, Bangkok. The event will provide a center of all solutions for mold & die production from more than 250 brands under one roof. Industrialists will be able to stay on top of the latest production and maintenance technologies, tools & tooling, and 3D Printing, with a chance to join in seminars with the hottest topics explained by the real gurus in the industry.