Auto repair, especially for a do-it-yourselfer, depends on the availability of parts. Nothing can be as aggravating as being told at the store that the particular part you need is out of order and won’t be available for a few weeks. The search for parts for older cars, which one might like to restore to working order, can involve endless trips to the junkyard.
Motor Trend is reporting that the automotive industry is starting to delve into 3D printing to custom make parts. Mercedes and a company called Mini have started offering custom-printed parts on a limited basis. However, the technology is likely to change how motor vehicles are maintained in the future.
Dealers and car part stores, rather than maintaining an inventory of car parts or relying on a supply chain from a warehouse, may now come equipped with 3D printers that are capable of creating parts on the spot. The savings in inventory costs can run into the many millions. Software and raw materials are easier to store than the literally thousands of different kinds of parts that go into a motor vehicle.
Custom 3D printing of auto parts can also revolutionize the way weekend home auto mechanics and antique car restorers operate. Say you need a part that goes into a 1967 Ford Mustang, which has not been manufactured for decades. Instead of searching for it, you can just order it online and either pick it up at the store when it’s ready or have it delivered. The increase in convenience will be beyond calculation.