GM Uses 3D Printing to Make New Corvettes Better Than Before

3D printing has become the talk of the town because of the endless applications it can meet. Today GM is using 3D printing to construct 75% of the new Corvette and then some.
C8 15 photos
Photo: Chevrolet
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3D printing has been around for a few years now and has become quite an accessible technology for both big and small companies alike. Heck, even I have two 3D printers at home.

The pringing technology is quite simple really. At this time, two separate techniques exist for creating a 3D printed product. One technique requires a spool of treatable material that is fed through a heated nozzle and creates an object by placing layer upon layer of material until the final object is complete.

The second technique requires a type of flowing resin, which is exposed to a UV laser that turns that resin into a solid layer. The mold is then lowered to allow another layer to be created, subsequently fusing to the previously printed layer.

Corvette C8 Interior
Photo: Chevrolet
GM has recently announced that the new mid-engine C8 Corvette has been completed using 3D printing techniques such as these. But how? As far as I’ve seen, I’ve only been able to make toys. But then again, I don’t have a team of engineers on my side.

Different size printers exist on the market, and with enough financial backing you could probably talk to a 3D printer manufacturer like Prusa to make you one that allows to print vehicle sized components. That seems to be the case here.

To be able to print door panels, roof panels, hoods, engine components and eventually engines, GM requires large printers, but also ones that allow for materials such as diverse metals or carbon fiber to be used. Afterall, we are building cars here and safety is an issue.

But why 3D printing?

Corvette C8 Engine
Photo: Chevrolet
3D printing allows for a number of classic production steps to be bypassed so it makes sense to do it. One benefit of this tech is that it allows GM to produce, fit, and test components before production processes are modified, saving time, effort and money in the process. Some of the molds GM uses to produce Corvette and other vehicle components are even able to be printed, thus eliminating the need for other molding facilities.

3D printing allows us to make constant, rapid changes to fixtures based on feedback from the assembly teams. We can receive feedback from Hamilton, improve a part and have it flown back to Reno in less than 24 hours.” - Dominick Lentine, GM.

So, it makes sense to use this type of technology on a vehicle like the C8. With its sporty look, sleek shape and odd lines, it seems only normal to turn to 3D tech to be able to put something like this together before actually modifying production lines. In time, it seems that this might even be a goal that GM and other vehicle manufactures are looking to hit.

Corvette C8 Engine
Photo: Chevrolet
Aside from all of this, the ability for people to order their own customized C8, or any other car for that matter, without having to wait ages for it to arrive, seems closer than ever due to shorter component manufacturing times.

All this aside, 3D printing units and facilities also allow companies like GM to shift production, as was the case with the global health crisis, to much needed components that have nothing to do with cars.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
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A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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