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Your Next Car From GM May Have 3D-Printed Parts

3D parts can be cheaper and lighter, so GM is ready to embrace them.

General Motors is hard at work building alternative fuel vehicles like the Chevy Bolt in order to reach its ambitious goal of adding 20 new electric battery and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023. As part of the initiative, CEO Mary Barra claims that GM will be profitable selling EV cars by 2021. To this end, GM is teaming up with design software company, Autodesk Inc., to manufacture lightweight 3D-printed parts, this according to Automotive News. GM believes 3D-printed parts can be a game changer for EV cars.

Consumers place a heavy emphasis on EV range, something 3D-printed parts can help with due to their light weight. This week, GM showed off a seat bracket developed with Autodesk technology. A typical seat bracket may use as many as eight pieces, but Autodesk's is made of only one part. This helps lower weight by around 40% and increase strength by 20%. Autodesk uses advanced cloud computing and artificial intelligence to help design its parts. The company has even contributed to projects like the BAC Mono. The applications for 3D-parts go beyond improving EV range, and could also be used with a performance orientation.

Kevin Quinn, the automaker's director of additive design and manufacturing, said we can expect 3D-printed parts to appear on high-end, motorsports applications within a year. Within five years we will start to see these parts reach mass production. Perhaps the next high-performance Corvette or Camaro model could be made lighter through the use of 3D-printed parts.

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