SOLIZE has been chosen by Toyota to utilize 3D printing for the production of functional parts for Lexus vehicles.

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The Revolutionary Potential of 3D Printing in the Automotive Industry

In an industry constantly seeking innovation, 3D printing has emerged as a game-changer for the automotive sector. While many have dismissed it as a novelty, recent developments by Japanese reseller and 3D printing service SOLIZE, in partnership with major automakers Nissan and Toyota, have proven that 3D printing has tangible benefits in the production of functional components.

SOLIZE first made waves in 2021 when they began manufacturing 3D printed components for Nissan’s NISMO brand using HP printers. This success has now extended to a partnership with Toyota, where SOLIZE will utilize HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology to manufacture official spare parts for the Lexus LC500.

The specific focus of this partnership is the production of automatic transmission oil cooler ducting components, designed to enhance smooth shift changes and driving comfort for individuals who intend to race their cars. Not only does this 3D printed duct offer improved performance, but it also demonstrates significant environmental advantages. According to SOLIZE, this component generates 37% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its molded counterpart, making it a greener alternative for consumers.

Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of 3D printing is also highlighted in SOLIZE’s findings. While the initial cost of 3D-printed parts is generally higher, the company argues that the long-term cost advantages, as evidenced by life cycle assessments, make it an appealing option for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This finding has the potential to encourage automotive OEMs to transition to 3D-printed components for various uses, reducing costs and carbon footprint in the process.

Toyota’s decision to introduce 3D printing in the low-volume model, the Lexus LC500, is a strategic one. Given that this model reportedly sold just 1,100 units in the United States last year, the limited production volume makes 3D printing financially viable. This move indicates a shift in the industry towards mass customization, where higher prices and lower volumes create a favorable business case for 3D printing.

The introduction of personalized and playful options in the LC500, such as 3M door guard tape, a pet first aid kit, and even a dog hair remover, showcases Toyota’s exploration of more extensive, lifestyle-oriented features. This departure from their traditionally comprehensive trims and packages has the potential to increase profits per sale and attract buyers seeking a more personalized driving experience. Such a shift opens up opportunities for 3D printing to not only manufacture components but also serve as a sales tactic to close more deals.

This initiative by Toyota and SOLIZE, while still in its early stages, holds great potential for the automotive industry. It demonstrates that 3D printing can be used to produce functional, essential parts for vehicles, rather than mere decorative elements. This real-world proof of concept by a major player like Toyota signifies a significant moment for 3D printing in the automotive sector.

Moving forward, the industry should closely monitor the progress of this partnership. If personalized options like the “50-piece First Aid Kit, complete with Dog First Aid Guide” prove successful in attracting buyers, it could further solidify the business case for 3D printing. Not only would 3D-printed components become more prevalent in automobiles, but they might also revolutionize the car-buying experience, making it more engaging and leading to increased purchases.

Ultimately, developments like these indicate that 3D printing has moved beyond novelty items and is now a technology that is actively transforming the automotive industry. SOLIZE and Toyota deserve recognition for their trailblazing efforts in corporate innovation and their role in propelling 3D printing forward in an industry where it truly matters.

To stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third-party vendors, be sure to keep an eye out for future updates. Exciting times are ahead for 3D printing in the automotive sector, and you won’t want to miss a thing.

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