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GM 3D Prints 60,000 Parts to Keep Producing SUVs (cnet.com)
Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday June 11, 2022 @03:34PM from the supply-and-debug dept.
General Motors couldn't produce the component it needed for its 2022 SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe, reports CNET. So the company's engineers "turned to a novel solution: 3D printing..." GM made a major investment in the tech in 2020, dedicating 15,000 square feet of space to a facility dubbed the Additive Industralization Center, then filling it with HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers, among others.... A year later, GM's big investment paid off. Chevrolet engineers made a late change to the 2022 Tahoe's design, necessitating the creation of an additional part: A new, flexible "spoiler closeout seal" fills a gap at the rear of the big SUV. Developing the tooling to injection-mold the things would have taken too long, delaying the delivery of 30,000 vehicles.
Enter 3D printing. Engineers were able to quickly design and print the components using a flexible material that met GM's criteria. They even used a process called vapor polishing to give the parts a perfect shine... Since each Tahoe requires two seals, Chevrolet needed a whopping 60,000 of them. From design to completion took just five weeks. That's less than half the time going the injection-molding route would have taken, which got all those SUVs out the door on time.
CNET calls it "almost certainly the largest deployment of additive tech in a production car" — and "an interesting preview of what's to come."
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