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From Corvette to coronavirus face shields, 3D printing is enabling GM to work smarter

General Motor is investing in 3D printing technology.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Three-dimensional printing is taking on larger and larger roles at automakers worldwide. At General Motors (GM), the impact of the implantation of the technology has effected business operations from the building of the newest generation Corvette to the company's pivot to creating supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"3D printing helps us design and build parts and products faster and in ways we previously couldn't," said Kevin Quinn, GM director of additive design and manufacturing. "It's already having a positive impact on how we develop and build vehicles, like Corvette, and it's allowed us to apply our mass production expertise to medical supplies and devices."

General Motors ear savers 3d printing The company produced 3D printed �ear savers,� which help make masks more comfortable for some wearers. Photo courtesy of General Motors

Years ago, when noted first physical version of what would become the C8 came together, 75 percent of its parts were 3D printed. GM says that this allowed its research and development teams to envision how the vehicle would come together and allowed them to diagnose and correct issues early on, leading to a reduced development time.

GM is working to implement the technology even further within its product development and production plans as the technology rapidly develops.

GM has a long history with using 3D printing in development. The company has been using additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping since 1989. Remember 1989? That was the year George H.W. Bush was sworn in as president, serial killer Ted Bundy was executed, Time Warner was created from a merger, and Tim Berners-Lee produced a proposal document for what would become the blueprint for the World Wide Web.

The company's ability to do more 3D printing is due to a recent significant investment in the technology. The Additive Innovation Lab, a 4,000-square-foot facility, opened at the Cole Engineering Center inside GM's Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan last year. The lab's location makes it accessible to engineers, designers, and other team members. To date, more than 700 employees have been trained by the facility's combined salaried and hourly workforce.

"Most design work takes place in computer-aided design or computer-aided engineering these days, but there's no substitute for having an actual part in hand to prove out your concept, be it a transmission component or a face shield visor," said Quinn.

A second greenfield facility, the Additive Industrialization Center, will begin official operations in late 2020 onsite at GM's Global Technical Center. GM says that the stand-alone facility will further expand the company's expertise and capability in 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

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Chevy recently dropped a load of specs and opened orders for the new Silverado EV.

Chevrolet

After months of teases and speculation, Chevrolet took the wraps off its 2024 Silverado EV pickup truck. The long-awaited electric truck lands with impressive range of up to 400 miles, plenty of power, and neat features that improve its ability to do "truck stuff." The $105,000 RST First Edition model sold out in 12 minutes, so we're here to ask the question: Would you line up to buy one?

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV It's all about the screens in the RST First Edition model. Chevrolet

Chevrolet will offer the truck in two trims at launch: A fleet-oriented WT (work truck) model and a consumer-friendly RST First Edition model. Chevy says it will eventually offer a fleet model with 20,000 pounds of max towing capacity. The WT model will launch first with 510 horsepower and 615 pound-feet of torque, which adds up to a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds and 1,200 pounds of payload. The RST trim offers a Wide Open Watts (WOW) Mode that bumps power to 664 ponies and 780 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

The RST model offers advanced features to make daily driving easier for the everyday buyer, including four-wheel steering, automatic adaptive air suspension, a 17-inch touchscreen and 11-inch gauge cluster, a 14-inch head-up display, and Super Cruise with trailering capability. An available onboard generator system can produce up to 10.2kW of power for equipment such as worksite power tools or campsite gear.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Preorders for the $105,000 RST First Edition sold out in just 12 minutes.Chevrolet

Both trucks come exclusively in crew cab format, and will offer an "eTrunk" where the engine bay would be in a traditional truck. The lockable, weatherproof compartment can carry a large suitcase, and adds to the Silverado EV's already impressive interior storage. The RST's center console can swallow more than seven gallons of gear, which is large enough to hold a small lunch cooler, according to Chevy. RST models are also available with GM's excellent Multi-Flex tailgate, but there's a new feature for the electric truck that its gas-powered counterparts don't get: A Multi-Flex Midgate that opens the space between the cab and bed for carrying longer cargo. Using the function won't interfere with use of the back seat, either, so the truck will still carry at least four people.

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The first Hummer EVs are rolling off the line.

GMC

After a year filled with delays and production issues, General Motors has a great reason to celebrate. The first GMC Hummer EV Pickups are rolling off the production line and will be in buyers' driveways soon. The first, VIN 001, was purchased at a Barret-Jackson auction back in March for $2.5 million, but the rest were sold at the EV's asking price, which starts at $110,295.

The Hummer EV comes as Chevrolet announces that orders will open for the Silverado EV in early January, and as Ford readies the F-150 Lightning for production. It also lands just as Rivian is getting its R1T pickups out the door, so we've moved from zero electric pickups to several in the span of just a few months.

GMC HUMMER EV PICKUP | Customer Deliveries Start Now youtu.be

The GMC Hummer EV offers several enticing features that include a four-wheel "CrabWalk" function for diagonal movement around off-road obstacles, adaptive air suspension, a Watts to Freedom (WTF) mode that allows the hefty EV to scoot from 0-60 mph in just three seconds, and Super Cruise, GM's hands-free driving system.

GMC sold out of the Edition 1 Hummer, but reservations for other models are still open. The vehicle is being built at GM's Factory Zero facility in Detroit-Hammtramck, and will be joined by the Silverado EV when its production commences. The plant saw a $2.2 billion renovation to produce EVs and is key to GM's early electrified successes.

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