Can you use 3D-printed parts in a car?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Fun Stuff on Saturday, November 7th, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Four different Chevy racing vehicles on a grid.

3D printing is being used more and more widely these days. The possibilities with this technology are constantly expanding, as humans find more ways to use 3D printed items.

One idea that’s come up is that of 3D printing car parts. Car parts can be expensive, of course, so the possibility of cutting costs is a tempting one. There’s also the allure of convenience, in that individuals can buy and set up their own 3D printer at home, and theoretically print off their own replacement vehicle parts.

Do 3D-printed car parts work?

Until 3D printing becomes more widespread, order your parts here!

X-ray vision of a Corvette showing the 3D printed parts

3D-Printed Parts Used in Chevy Racing

Yes, the feasibility and success of 3D-printed car parts can be seen in how Chevrolet Motorsports has utilized 3D-printed parts in both their on- and off-road vehicles. This season, Chevy race teams have accumulated more than 80,000 miles of competition in vehicles built with 3D-printed parts.

3D-printed parts used In Chevrolet racing vehicles have included oil tanks, tank inlets and caps, air conditioning driver cooling box and integrated hydration system, power steering pump bracket and headlight assemblies. Many of these parts were designed or printed in-house by GM.

Using these parts on the racetrack and gaining the requisite experience helps the additive manufacturing team at GM to move one step closer to using 3D-printed parts in production vehicles.

The use of 3D-printed parts is looking to be just another chapter in the way that Chevy vehicles evolve over the years.

What are the benefits of 3D-printed car parts?

Benefits of using 3D-parts in vehicles include, “manufacturing efficiencies, mass reduction, part consolidation, creativity and cost savings,” says Audley Brown, director of Materials Engineering, Additive Design, and Manufacturing at GM. Brown goes on to say that, “3D-printed parts can offer equal strength and durability to cast or milled components, which is critical for product development and design.”

Further, the Chevrolet INDYCAR program found that 3D printing exhaust system parts helped to eliminate failure points in traditional manufactured components while increasing design freedom and reducing cost.

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What Chevrolet Motorsports vehicles have used 3D-printed parts?

Chevy Motorsports vehicles that used 3D printed parts this season include the Corvette, Silverado off-road race truck, and new Camaro ZL1 1LE.

More than 75 3D-printed parts were used in two all-new mid-engine Corvette race cars. They seem to have worked, as the team enjoyed a dominant 2020 season, taking home five first-place wins and three 1-2 finishes.

In the Silverado off-road race truck, a 3D-printed rear damper shield was made with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. Over 500 3D-printed prototype parts were used in testing to develop the new Camaro ZL1 1LE body. The race model itself is equipped with a 3D-printed gear cooling duct.

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