3D Printing vs. manufacturing line economies of scale

3D Printing vs. manufacturing line economies of scale

( from a letter by Casey Research)

"But the industry with all the “wow” is additive manufacturing, known as 3D printing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video of the process is a novel."

( search You Tube for a video of 3 D printing)

"And 3D printing is scalable and eliminates economies of scale; there are plans to print an entire commercial aircraft wing, and whether 1 or 10,000 of the same item is printed the cost per item remains constant. Amazing."

Can Tesla use 3 D printing to bring cost of manufacturing lower than what is projected with the NUMMI facility? Its low capital cost vs what is could have been is an advantage to begin with, but how do you leapfrog the competition in manufacturing costs - does 3D printing provide a way?

Brian H | 10 octobre 2011

Well, it's already a highly advanced robotic line. 3D printing of metals is still in early days. I'd expect Elon and the boyz to be watching closely, tho'.

evfan12 | 10 novembre 2015

But who's to say you cannot 3D print using massive economies of scale? Anyone know if Tesla has decided incorporate any forms of 3D printing yet?

Timo | 10 novembre 2015

3D printing is slow compared to traditional manufacturing. That's the main drawback of the thing. It can however produce better items if the goal is complex (usually hollow) structure. So depends of the usage where it is useful. Not for most of the (big) car components just because it is so slow, but you could do some smaller parts many pieces in parallel so that there are enough of them ready for each car in line all of time.

SpaceX uses 3D -printed parts in their rocket engines, and I believe there is quite a bit know-how transfer between the companies so they are well aware of the pros and cons of the method.

Rocky_H | 10 novembre 2015

evfan12 Quote: "But who's to say you cannot 3D print using massive economies of scale?"


EcLectric | 10 novembre 2015

Timo is correct. 3D printing is good for prototyping. Once you have a part that you want to manufacture in quantity, you switch to a different technology. A small plastic part can take an hour to 3D print. If you have a tool made for that part, you can injection mold thousands of them an hour for a cost of a few pennies per piece. The down-side to hard tooling is that you have a metal tool that took weeks (at least) to produce and would similarly take weeks to modify. With a 3-D printed part, you can modify it for each piece you make in very little time and at little cost.

I don't know if anyone's doing it, but it might be good to combine the two - use 3D printing of metal to quickly create a new tool and then use that tool in an injection molding machine to quickly make copies.

evfan12 | 11 novembre 2015

Thanks guys, good info.