3D printing is affecting the way engineers design in the automotive industry. The technology is already used in the industry, currently mostly for plastic and metal spare parts. Additive manufacturing has opened the door for newer designs, safer products, shorter lead times and lower costs. Moreover, it will be an enabler for the automotive industry to adapt towards the new smart mobility requirements.
With 3D printed electronics, even more applications are in sight. Engineers can now design the electronics to fit a certain part, rather than designing parts around electronics as before. The design is no longer limited to flat printed circuit boards, things get three-dimensional. Furthermore, electronics can be printed using a variety of techniques- inkjet, analog, so there is a lot of room for innovation.
Several companies in the market are already printing sensors, circuit boards, and more. We talked to a few of the speakers at the 3D Printing Electronics Conference, which is organised annually by Jakajima in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. They see a lot of potential for 3D printed electronics in the automotive field.
Windscreens and heater patterns. Great potential for OEMS
Martin Hedges, Managing Director, Neotech AMT GmbH, Germany: It has great potential for OEMS. Flexible process chains can be easily reconfigured to cope with rapid changes in product type whilst retaining the ability to be scaled through to high volume manufacture.
Current emerging applications include:
- Cabin Interiors/Lighting – higher level of integration & automation, cost & weight saving
- Heater Patterns – weight reduction, added functionality
- Longer term – sensors, antenna… Read more