3D printing is affecting the way engineers design in the automotive industry. The technology is already used in the industry, currently mostly for plastic and metal spare parts. Additive manufacturing has opened the door for newer designs, safer products, shorter lead times and lower costs. Moreover, it will be an enabler for the automotive industry to adapt towards the new smart mobility requirements.
With 3D printed electronics, even more applications are in sight. Engineers can now design the electronics to fit a certain part, rather than designing parts around electronics as before. The design is no longer limited to flat printed circuit boards, things get three-dimensional. Furthermore, electronics can be printed using a variety of techniques- inkjet, analog, so there is a lot of room for innovation.
Several companies in the market are already printing sensors, circuit boards, and more. We talked to a few of the speakers at the 3D Printing Electronics Conference, which is organised annually by Jakajima in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. They see a lot of potential for 3D printed electronics in the automotive field.
Replacing the buttons
Mahmoud Tavakoli, Professor at the University of Coimbra and Project Manager at the Institute of Systems and Robotics, Portugal: One of the areas where 3D printed electronics will find first applications is replacing the physical buttons. The automotive industry is trying to get rid of the old-fashioned and costly buttons and replace it with tactile buttons, and this is where printed electronics can help. Read more