General Motors stated on Thursday it was collaborating with design software company Autodesk Inc to produce new, lightweight 3D-printed parts that could help the carmaker meet its goals to add alternative-fuel automobiles to its product lineup.
In 2017, the company announced it’s strategies to add 20 new electric battery and fuel cell vehicles to its worldwide lineup by 2023. Chief Executive Mary Barra has made a bold promise to investors that the carmaker will make money selling electric vehicles by 2021.
The ability to print lightweight parts could be a gamechanger for the electric vehicle industry. With customer concerns over the limited range of electric vehicles a known obstacle to their mass adoption, making them lighter enhances fuel efficiency and could help increase that range.
GM executives this week revealed a 3D-printed stainless steel seat bracket made with Autodesk technology – which uses cloud computing and artificial intelligence-based algorithms to explore multiple permutations of a part design.
Using traditional technology, the part would need eight components and several suppliers. With this new system, the seat bracket includes one part – which looks like a combination between abstract art and science fiction movie – that is about 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger.
Other manufacturers like General Electric have also beefed up their utilization of 3D printers in manufacturing. GM competing automaker Ford Motor stated in 2017 it was testing lightweight 3D printing for mass production.