Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Although Americans may not recognize the Czech car manufacturer Škoda, the company produced its first car in 1905. Today, over 100 years later, the automotive company announced it’s using 3D printing to streamline the car manufacturing process. The Czech Republic recognizes Škoda as an innovator in auto manufacturing for their commitment to new technologies that make it easier and quicker to design and produce cars.
How Škoda uses 3D printing
The newest push at Škoda is to use 3D printing to “manufacture components and tools faster,” said by Michael Oeljeklaus, Škoda’s Board Member for Production and Logistics. New designs can be produced more quickly because the company doesn’t need to invest in molds or manufacturing lines to print prototypes for R&D. 3D printing reduces reliance on third-party manufacturers, which should be cost-saving. Škoda can also use 3D printing to print tools and parts to make repairs on the line.
3D printing in the automotive industry
According to Formlabs, a full-body 3D printed car is a long way off, but 3D printing is changing the car industry in other ways. Škoda is not the only manufacturer using 3D printing to change how they produce cars. Bentley Motors used the technology to create detailed parts for their concept car, the EXP 10 Speed 6. Volkswagen combined 3D printing with traditional manufacturing to recreate the iconic 1962 Microbus. 3D parts gave the van some improvements and the gas engine was replaced with an electric one.
3D printing reduces the need to keep inventory on hand. Instead of keeping a multitude of parts on hand, manufacturers can print parts as needed. The aftermarket parts industry benefits from 3D printing as well. If you have an older model, you may be able to get a part that is custom printed. As more manufacturers embrace the technology, the possibilities are endless.