Nissan begins to use 3D printing technology

Car manufacturer Nissan has begun using 3D printing technology developed by BCN3D to bolster its automotive production lines in Spain.

Nissan’s Barcelona factory features IDEX FFF technology, with parts such as tools, jigs, fixtures, and functional prototypes being 3D printed. Nissan formerly outsourced all of its tooling to third-party suppliers that operated on traditional manufacturing processes such as CNC machining. It is true that the part quality was indeed high. However, the firm faced long lead times and high costs, with simple metal tools sometimes costing around €400 apiece.

Thanks to in-house design and fabrication process, Nissan has reportedly reduced manufacturing times from a week to just one day. It means that the company can cut costs by an average of 95%. Using BCN3D 3D printers, the company has produced more than 700 parts so far, some of which cost just €3.45. Thus, Nissan intends to employ additive manufacturing at some of its other factories worldwide.

Who is BCN 3D?

BCN 3D is one of the leading developers and manufacturers of 3D printing solutions in the world. Based in Barcelona, they firmly believe in delivering the best quality tools to both professionals and industry level users. Above all, their goal is to enable creators and innovators to materialize their ideas providing a platform for creation.

What is a 3D printer?

A 3D printer is a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) device that creates three-dimensional objects. In fact, a 3D printer receives digital data from a computer as input as other printers do. However, instead of printing the output on paper, a 3D printer builds a three-dimensional model out of a custom material.

3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing to form (or “print”) physical objects layer by layer until the model is complete. This is different from subtractive manufacturing, in which a machine reshapes or removes material from an existing mold. In fact, they are more efficient and produce less waste than subtractive manufacturing devices. This is because 3D printers create models from scratch.

The process of printing a 3D model varies depending on the material used to create the object. For example, when building a plastic model, a 3D printer may heat and fuse the layers of plastic together using a process called fused deposition modeling (FDM). When creating a metallic object, a 3D printer may use a process called direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). This method forms thins layers of metal from metallic powder using a high powered laser.

Will a 3D printer be more popular?

Even though the news shows that Nissan just started using the 3D printing technology, it is not the latest idea. The general concept already existed in 1940s so that it seems the problem of timing when it becomes popular.  In the article about the Hype Cycle, a 3D printer should be different stage of it in each era. In fact, the application of 3D printers is very varying from industries to situations.

Thus, we can safely say that the new technology is getting popular in the automotive industry. Most of us have unconscious bias and status-quo, but good examples can break them. If Nissan’s new initiative becomes a good example to change our views, more automotive manufacturers as well as their suppliers will use the 3D printing technology.

Barcelona – Adobe Stock