In the December 2011 issue of Profession Engineering magazine, Wolfgang Grulke, futurist and Chairman of the FutureWorld, presented that by 2020 that one quarter of all retail items will be produced in homes. Designers will sell the design directly to the consumer to be produced on a personal 3D printer. Grulke remarked that the automotive industry is a fascinating one and that a large part of the parts being produced will be in the automotive industry. Cars will be purchased from dealers and then personalized at home.
Only 6 years early of Grulke’s original projection, there exists the possibility of personalizing one’s car. One example of someone personalizing his/her car is Late Night talk show host Jay Leno. He has a small, personal pit crew that use a 3D printer, scanner, computer controlled mill, and a water jet capable to cut through steel in order to fabricate rusted or unobtainable parts. Mr. Leno has the hobby of restoring old cars, dating all the way back to his 1906 Stanley Steamer, to make them driveable by replacing the rusted out parts with 3D printed parts. The days of going to the junkyard in search of parts are over for Mr. Leno because the parts created by the 3D printer are just as strong as the originals and a perfect copy too. In order to make a new part, the old part is scanned. Next the imperfections are electronically fixed using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program and a 3D mold is made using the printer. Finally using the mold, the new part is cast in metal. Jay Leno commented that the only parts that he cannot remake are the tires and electronic components.
Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) is not only for car enthusiasts, like Jay Leno, but has also been built for the common person to take advantage of. Imagine being able to make your car exactly the way you want it. With the precise capabilities of 3D printing, parts can be custom made to fit a any size and shape, to fulfill any function. All it takes is a computer and a 3D printer to make your car yours. Using Jay Leno as the model, the every day consumers can create their own parts using their 3D printer to make their car personal and truly one of a kind.
The industry started with small plastic parts, such as gear shifters, but has grown to new heights. In 2014 any part can be fabricated, in plastic or metal, that has been made in the past 100+ years. The advancements of the 3D printing industry has caused a rise in the number of 3D printers being purchased. In the past rare or unusual parts were hard to come by because few had the capabilities to create such a part, but with the help of a 3D printer, the everyday person can create any part with precision, and not strength lost. The ceiling of 3D printed aftermarket parts has not been reached yet and will continue to get higher. Brian Albright projects the market to grow annually by 23% from 2013-2010, as well as brings some issues, like quality control, to light.
The future for aftermarket parts may be here sooner than you think. Make sure you are ready.
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