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GM Opens Additive Industrialization Center Dedicated to 3D Printing

3D printing will help transform GM operations in product development, motorsports and manufacturing.
#metal #polymer #prototyping

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General Motors' AIC includes 24 3D printers, which create polymer and metal solutions using a variety of processes.

General Motors’ AIC includes 24 3D printers, which create polymer and metal solutions using a variety of processes.

General Motors’ new 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center (AIC) is dedicated to productionizing 3D printing technology in the automotive industry. “The core component of GM’s transformation is becoming a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission,” says Audley Brown, GM director of Additive Design and Materials Engineering. “Compared to traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months at a significantly lower cost.”

The facility includes 24 3D printers, which create polymer and metal solutions using a variety of processes, including selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, Multi Jet Fusion and fused deposition modeling. The AIC is intended to validate additive technologies and applications, with frequent pivots to evolving additive machinery and equipment. GM Ventures and GM R&D are collaborative partners with the AIC to support an integrated enterprise approach to adopting accelerated product development and tooling.

“GM is increasingly applying the benefits of 3D printing, from prototype development to manufacturing tooling and production vehicles,” says Ron Daul, GM director of Additive Manufacturing and Polymer Centers. “With the opening of the AIC, we’ll continue to accelerate adoption of this technology across the organization.”

GM has a history of using 3D-printed rapid prototypes to check form and fit. Today, many of the parts the AIC produces are functional prototypes used on preproduction vehicles in various testing environments.

3D printing functional prototypes can help eliminate expensive early tooling costs. As a result, engineers have the ability to iterate quickly, make design changes and reduce development times. For example, the team 3D printed the brake cooling ducts used for the development of the Chevrolet Corvette, saving nine weeks of development and reducing costs by over 60% in the process.

GM is also producing a significant number of 3D-printed tools used for assembling vehicles. 3D printing often enables the team to consolidate the components of a part into a single, optimized design. The result is tools that are lighter, more ergonomic and less complex.

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