The Options Are Endless: Using 3D Printing to Create Car Accessories

The automotive industry is one of many industries 3D printing is revolutionizing, and workers with additive manufacturing skills are in high demand. 

Auto manufacturing was one of the first industries to embrace 3D printing and use it to increase efficiency, lower costs, and innovate design. 3D printing is perfect for creating what auto production and repair need: precision parts that can withstand high temperatures and pressure, manufactured on-demand. Even though we haven’t seen a fully 3D-printed car yet, 3D printing is prevalent in all the various stages of car production. At the consumer level, car lovers can customize their stock models far cheaper than sourcing and buying parts, and vintage car owners can replace an old, out-of-production part with an exact replica. 

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What is driving the move to 3d-printed parts?

There are many reasons why 3D printing may be preferred over traditional part procurement. With 3D printing, a digital inventory of parts is available to print-on-demand, rather than physical. This eliminates the lag time waiting for a part and storage cost in one blow. Additive manufacturing uses less material than traditional manufacturing, which also helps your bottom line. Car enthusiasts are allowed infinite customization options – you can replicate a part exactly or modify and modernize it to suit your vehicle. 

As 3D printing continues to gain popularity in various industries, it is crucial to educate students on the many benefits of using 3D-printed parts and tools. The more versatile their skillset is, the more adaptable a student will be to the everchanging modern workforce.

What kind of car accessories are 3D printed?

As the title suggests, the options are endless! From entire carbon fiber exteriors to cup holders, phone chargers, dash cam holders, and trunk dividers, if you can dream it, you can 3D print it. There are thousands of blueprints for car parts for free online. Vintage car owners looking for legacy parts can also rejoice because they can now replace broken, out-of-production parts rather than continue to repair them. 3D printing can also create custom tools. On the design level, all new car models are prototyped first, and 3D printing is a valuable tool to see the models physically before putting them into production.  

Car Accessories with 3D printing

With a printer, some material, and a pattern, you can teach your students how to print their own car accessories! Both FDM and SLA printers can be used, but of course, you need to keep your end goal in mind when selecting the best 3D printer. As for your pattern, there are thousands of free, open-source blueprints on the Thingiverse to use as a starting point. 

Students will learn to use a CAD program or design software to manipulate or create blueprints. Once you have the blueprint for your 3D printed part, they’ll learn to convert it to a language the 3D printer can understand using GrabCAD Print. GrabCAD Print makes it easy to configure your design for your printing conditions (e.g., materials used, the highest temperature of your machine, etc.) and deliver the file to the printer. Then, your student gets to watch their new car accessory materialize! And while they are creating car accessories today, they are also creating career opportunities for themselves in the decades to come.

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