During a live presentation titled “Lightweighting for EV Manufacturing: Design and Validation,” a Tech Briefs reader had the following question for an expert at the Germany-based design and simulation manufacturer Siemens:

“It seems as though there hasn’t been any major breakthrough in the use of additive-manufacturing in vehicle production. Why is that?”

Read the edited response from Chris Weber, Director of Additive Manufacturing – Americas at Siemens Digital Industries.

Chris Weber, Siemens Digital Industries

Chris Weber: Part of the issue is that companies that are having success will tell you that they’re having success up to a point, without giving away the “secret sauce.” They don’t want their competitor to find out how they’ve been successful in a given area, and then not have competitive advantage.

It’s about sharing of information. [There should be] talking across industries. Maybe if you’re from automotive, you talk to the medical-device industry – someone Johnson and Johnson for instance who’ve had a lot of success with powdered metals in a production environment.

There are learnings that still need to take place. There are materials that need to be investigated as well and validated to bring the price down. There are several customers now who are choosing some of the tens of thousands of alloys that are out there for traditional manufacturing and having them atomized [to produce a metal power], and then validating them for the particular printers. I think you’re going to see another level one that experimentation starts to take off again. And that lowers the price.

There are a lot of standards that we’re so used to in traditional manufacturing. We have specifications; we know how certain materials react in certain conditions and so you get repeatability. With additive manufacturing, we still have a lot of work to do to get repeatability on a lot of these printers.

What do you think? Share your questions and comments below.

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