Product Development Life Cycle: 3D Printing Start to Finish

Published 12/17/2015

Manufacturing is being disrupted by 3D printing as companies shift their thinking from the concept of “design for manufacturing” to “manufacturing of the design.” Design for manufacturing often leads to a product that can be profitably produced in high volumes but which differs from what marketing — and the customer — actually wanted. The shift to employing 3D printing enables manufacturers to profitably manufacture the personalized design that the customer desires and values highly.

Strategic Planning Assumption: By 2019, 10% of out-of-production spare parts for cars, trucks, bicycles and motorcycles, in addition to military vehicles and drones, will be 3D-printed.

Although new replacement parts are widely available for some classic vehicles, they are long depleted for “orphaned” vehicles, antique vehicles, unpopular vehicles and odd configurations of classic vehicles. Many hobby cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles have remained incomplete for years for lack of a few key parts. The collectible market will result in opportunities for new companies to become involved or for established vehicle manufacturers to get started in the space.

In remote areas of the world, 3D-printing will be used to create a host of vehicle replacement parts, not just trim pieces. The purpose of those parts will be to keep the vehicle in service, rather than looking like new. Unfortunately, many parts that should not be made using 3D printing, such as brake parts, suspension parts, belts and even tires will be created anyway, often with disastrous results.

Active military vehicles present a different 3D printing challenge. Although most of those vehicles are very new compared with vintage and antique vehicles, they are typically used far away from repair facilities and parts supplies. A 3D printer with a library of CAD files for all critical components has become a life-saving tool in those situations.

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