Detroit — Applications are the driving force behind broadening additive manufacturing’s use in the automotive industry, according to General Motor Co.’s Kevin Quinn.
Quinn, director of additive design and manufacturing, discussed how the Detroit automaker is working on expanding the role and capabilities of additive manufacturing during a presentation at the Rapid + TCT trade show, held May 20-23.
The automotive industry is transforming, he said, and additive manufacturing can, in part, enable GM to reach lofty goals such as zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
But the industry is not going to be 3D printing the whole vehicle any time soon, if ever, Quinn said. It’s more about taking a pragmatic approach and setting up processes and procedures to advance additive manufacturing going forward. The strategy also includes driving more use of the technology for production parts and not just prototypes.
“How do you go out and find those applications? And then how do you ultimately — and frankly — challenge our normal processes in how we normally source parts, how we normally do things?” Quinn asked.
GM supports additive manufacturing applications in many ways, he said, with education as a top priority.
“It’s almost more so about ‘uneducation,’” Quinn said. “Forget how you’ve done things forever. … Give additive manufacturing a chance.”
Quinn also talked about “untraining” employees as a way to enable his team to think differently about how vehicles are designed and manufactured, especially if those vehicles no longer have steering wheels or pedals in the future.
“Don’t think about how you’ve done things for 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. How could we do something better? How could we do something differently to enable this?” Quinn said. “This isn’t just a pipe dream. This is happening now.”