During the production of the 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe, facing the problem that one of the components could not be delivered, the engineers of General Motors turned to a new solution - 3D printing. The more formal name of this technology is additive manufacturing, which is a process of rapidly making fully formed parts based on digital models.
General Motors made a major investment in this technology in 2020, setting up a 15000 square foot additional Industrialization Center, equipped with multiple HP multi jet fusion 3D printers. These printers are much more complex than prusa or anycuc in your home, but the basic principle of their operation is to create components layer by layer.
A year later, GM's huge investment paid off. Chevrolet engineers have made a late change to the design of Tahoe in 2022, which requires the creation of an additional component. A new, flexible "spoiler closure seal" fills a gap in the rear of a large SUV. The development of injection moulds will take too much time, thus delaying the delivery of 30000 vehicles.
With 3D printing, engineers can quickly design and print these components using flexible materials that meet GM standards. They even used a process called vapor polishing to give the parts a perfect gloss. Since each Tahoe needs two seals, Chevrolet needs up to 60000. It took only five weeks from design to completion. This is less than half the time required to take the injection molding route, which makes all these SUVs leave the factory on time.