3D printing is an amazing piece of technology and we’ve seen it used for artsy stuff and also used for medical and industrial purposes, allowing companies to create customized components in a shorter span of time. Now it looks like General Motors (GM) will be leveraging that technology to help advance its electric car efforts.

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The company has announced that they will be working with design software company Autodesk to manufacture 3D printed components for its electric cars. This is supposed to be a quicker and more affordable method compared to conventional methods. GM gave an example of how they 3D printed a stainless steel seat bracket which if they had gone through conventional methods, would require eight different components made by several suppliers.

Instead the end result was a seat bracket that consists of one part and is also apparently 40% lighter and 20% stronger than if they had used the conventional method. GM has been using 3D printing for a while now, but mostly for prototyping purposes. However the company is aiming for high-end, motorsports applications, and that in the next 5 years or so, they are hoping to be able to 3D print tens of thousands of parts at scale.

In the long run 3D printing is also expected to reduce tooling costs, the amount of materials needed, and also the number of suppliers required.

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