Production

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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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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New American supercar

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 gets reveal date

Chevy draws a line from the Z06 directly to its racing program.

Chevroley

The new Chevrolet Corvettewas a revelation when it was finally announced. The car brought a mid-engine design to the Corvette line for the first time, and put decades of speculation over the shift to bed. We've all known that Chevrolet would eventually release an even higher performance Z06 version of the car, but now we know the date. The automaker just announced that the car will be revealed on October 26.

To build hype for the car's announcement, Chevy released a short teaser video of the Z06 tearing around the Nurburgring. It's clear from the film that the car we'll see in October will be a different beast from its standard predecessor, which mainly comes down to a big change in its powertrain.


2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 The new car will be revealed in October.Chevrolet


The new Z06 is expected to feature a flat-plane crank V8 that will allow it to rev to 8500 or 9000 RPM. The car should see in excess of 600 horsepower from its howling V8, which will be sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.



As it has done with other Z06 models, Chevy will bolster the Corvette's suspension and brakes to accommodate higher speeds and the jump in power. The car will be able to carry more speed into corners and stop in a shorter distance than its standard counterpart, which will improve its lap times at the track. Various active and fixed aerodynamics components are also expected.

The C8 Corvette's interior is anything but boring, and the Z06 will carry on with that tradition. We'll still see the long center strip of buttons and controls, along with a digital gauge cluster and nicely upholstered sport seats. The Z06 will most likely get more in the way of carbon fiber and race-inspired trim pieces, but the layout won't deviate from the standard car to a great degree.


2023 Chevrolet Corvette The Z06 will be powered by a flat-plane crank V8.Chevrolet

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