Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing space, allowing companies across industries to build lighter, stronger and more cost-effective parts, while accelerating development and production timelines.
Given how nascent this manufacturing technique is, however, it’s understandable that questions—and adoption challenges—still abound. AM Hub helps you gain access to the information you need, through the insights of Burloak Technologies’ leading experts, so you can navigate this new terrain with confidence.
Here, Yevgeni Brif, Business Development Manager at Burloak, talks about how AM can help automotive manufacturers transition to an electric fleet of vehicles.
How is the electrical vehicle market evolving—and what trends can we expect in the future?
As governments across the world strive to meet their Paris Climate Agreement goals and keep global warming within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, electric vehicles (EVs) are central to many of their plans. Today, many countries have already pledged to either ban the sale of combustible engine vehicles or set electric vehicle targets by 2050—with nine stating they plan to reach net zero by that time.
This shift has created increased demand for EVs and the market is growing dramatically. Consider that, in 2020, 10 million EVs were on the roads worldwide. To meet climate targets, the IEA Sustainable Development Scenario suggests we’ll need to increase that number to 230 million by 2030.
This momentous push has encouraged many automotive manufacturers to not only increase EV production, but to create plans to phase out their internal combustion engine vehicles. General Motors, for instance, has pledged to only sell zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. Toyota, meanwhile, has said its Lexus brand will be all-electric in China, North America and Europe by 2030—and Mercedes has also chosen 2030 to offer an all-electric in most global markets.
What challenges do automakers face in electrifying their fleets?
Re-designing a gas-powered vehicle into an electric vehicle isn’t as simple as replacing one engine for another. For one thing, EV designs require adequate battery storage space, and those batteries need to be situated in a spot that protects them from potential hazards. Second, for those batteries to be as energy efficient as possible—and maintain their charge for as long as possible—manufacturers must find ways to make their cars lighter-weight.
Another obstacle many OEMs must overcome in their EV transition is the prospect of low demand. Like many things, it may take time for consumer behaviour to fully embrace EVs—and in the early phases, sales may not justify larger production runs. This transitionary period can lead to higher costs that consumers may not be willing to absorb.
What role can AM play in meeting automakers’ evolving EV manufacturing needs?
When it comes to vehicle electrification, one of AM’s greatest advantages is the potential it offers for light weighting. Because this type of manufacturing prints parts layer-by-layer, it isn’t limited to the same design restrictions as traditional forms of manufacturing. This allows for the consolidation of parts—or the creation of complex, organic geometries that use significantly less material. Additionally, materials used in AM are often lighter weight than traditional materials, while having better thermal capabilities—which can help prolong EV battery lifespans.
These benefits not only support manufacturers in their quest for lighter-weight vehicles, which is essential to the longevity of battery life, but they also allow them to create designs that maximize battery space, by fabricating casings with thinner walls and complex, stackable shapes.
As an added bonus, AM helps automotive manufacturers overcome the challenges of low-volume production by offering better value than traditional manufacturing methods and quicker speed to market. With AM, you don’t have to invest in things like tooling or mold revisions, making it well-suited for lower production runs, frequent design iterations and vehicle customization.
If you’d like to learn more about how AM can support your EV manufacturing efforts, contact us.