Will 3D Printers Revolutionize the Auto Part Industry?

Auto Parts“The part’s not in, but we’ll order it for you?”

 

How many times have you heard that before? Your vehicle is in at the shop, everyone knows what needs to be done and how to do it — it may even be a simple, 5-minute job — but you can’t get back behind the wheel because the part needs to arrive from the manufacturer. It happens more often than anyone would like, but that could be changing soon.

 

Much in the same way that people upload patterns for craft projects, able to be printed onto paper at home, 3D printing looks like it could revolutionize the way many people do business and live their lives, and that includes in the auto industry.

 

Print a Part When You Need It

While different automakers have different designs for their parts, it wouldn’t surprise us if those at the forefront of innovation — as Honda has been for some time — would start pushing for 3D printers to be installed at their service centers. Then, all that you would need is to look up the schematic for the piece you needed, press “print,” and wait until it’s done.

 

Now, the materials you’ll be using in an engine might need to be of sturdier stuff than home 3D printers are capable of, so this may be a bit in the realm of sci-fi for now, but it would be very easy to create a temporary fix piece that lets you keep driving your car while the stock part is sent to the dealership.

 

It could even be the kind of thing that DIY mechanics could handle at home, with the technologically-inclined designing 3D printer-friendly designs for generic, all-purpose parts.

 

When it comes to certain accents, like roof rail pieces, gas caps, and other essential auto parts, there is little reason those couldn’t be made using current printers. It’s just an issue of pushing the envelope — and if there’s anyone that’s doing that in the auto industry, it’s Honda.

 

With their development of smartphone apps to ease traffic congestion and save fuel economy, their equipping of new vehicles with many modern amenities, and their push for fuel-cell cars in the form of the FCX Clarity, we think its just a matter of time.