3D printing at the dealership could alleviate supply chain issues

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Kurtis Wilde, parts manager at Murray Honda in Chilliwack, British Columbia, envisions the day when dealerships will use 3D printers to make their own parts – small, non-safety plastic parts in the next few years and parts larger metals in the future. road.

He believes that 3D printing parts at the dealership and on-demand could solve the problem of delayed vehicle maintenance and repairs created by out-of-stock parts while making it easier to find replacement parts for vehicles. older.

“It’s amazing what these printers can do,” says Wilde, who owns two small 3D printers to make replicas of comic book superheroes, parts for his gas-powered remote control car, and plastic buttons and clips for camping. -because of a friend.

“We have cars that have been out of order since November,” Wilde said in March, because the dealer cannot get the parts needed to complete repair orders. “Think how useful it would be if [3D-printed parts at dealerships] were a possibility.”

Technological improvements have brought this closer to reality. Parts shortages caused by pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, combined with increased repair work, will prompt dealerships to add capacity in about five to seven years, people who know auto parts predict. and 3D printing.

But there are barriers related to 3D printing in general that could impact how quickly dealers seriously adopt the technology.

Ensuring that all 3D-printed auto parts meet strict quality standards is among the issues to be addressed, as is protecting the intellectual property rights of part designers, experts say.

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