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How 3D Printing Will Change Automotive Design

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According to a study by Harvard, the average American spends 101 minutes per day driving. Or, to put it in terms of a lifetime, an astounding 37,935 hours are spent driving a car.

Perhaps even more discouraging is that most Americans are likely to spend almost as much on gasoline over their vehicle’s lifespan as its original cost.

The impact of autonomous vehicles on the aforementioned statistics barely needs explaining, nor do the merits need defending. Can you imagine what you’d be able to do with that extra 4.3 years of productivity? All that time in your life would be returned. You could squeeze in an extra week or two of vacation time, certainly.

Aside from the financial and practical considerations that this brave new era of automotive is ushering in, there is another upside to the relentless forward drive in the space, with the advent of 3D printing, which brings us another surprise advantage: customization.

Think about it. As humans, we love things to be personalized. We go to great lengths to show off our sense of style, good taste, and purchasing power. We hire architects to design our homes the way we want them to look. We decorate our cubicles at work. We customize sneakers online. What, then, could we do with the chariot where we spend thousands of hours over the course of our lifetime? Does it not, too, deserve the level of personalization we have grown accustomed to? Should we not be able to walk into a car dealership, have a chat with a designer about what we want, see them input it into a computer-aided-design (CAD) program, and then have the whole thing manufactured on the spot by a giant 3D printer?