General Motors is betting on future 3D printer technology to help turn a profit on future electric cars. 3D printers will, ultimately, be able to create less expensive and lighter components for vehicles.
GM announced on Thursday that GM and Autodesk are working together to eventually manufacture 3D-printed parts and components. GM showed off a 3D-printed stainless steel seat bracket created with Autodesk technology, and the part is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than a traditional component.
According to the announcement, the same part would normally involve eight separate components and several suppliers to build. With the Autodesk technology, the component is one single part.
With less complexity, the 3D-printed parts could help shave costs from GM’s future electric cars. The automaker previously announced plans for 20 new battery-electric cars by 2023. CEO Mary Barra iterated the automakers will turn a profit on electric vehicles in 2021. Autodesk technology may help realize such a goal.
Additionally, with lighter 3D-printed parts, each component could go a long way in reducing overall vehicle weight. Current electric cars often suffer from rather heavy curb weights, thanks to heavy battery packs. Lighter electric cars will also help improve estimated range while battery technology continues to advance.